Jiang Tianyong tweets about Chen Guangcheng

Since the US media broke the story about Chen Guangcheng leaving the New York University, the online Chinese communities have been relatively quiet about the news. This started to change yesterday after the Chinese version of a Wall Street Journal report had appeared. The report contained a statement by a former adviser of Chen named Mattie J. Bekink. Bekink backed several claims of the New York University with regard to the blind activist’s departure from the University. The defamatory accusations in the statement led to an uproar among online dissident communities and had resulted in a deluge of posts on Twitter in support of Chen. The most significant of these online comments came from Jiang Tianyong, a China-based legal expert who has been in regular contacts with Chen. The following is a full translation of a set of 14 tweets that Jiang posted on 20 June 2013.


A translation of China-based lawyer Jiang Tianyong’s tweets – re: Chen Guangcheng vs the New York University


The case of CGC vs NYU:  We regard all those who care about human rights, rule of law, democracy and liberty in China as our friends. Chen Guangcheng (CGC) assures us that he will insist on speaking conscientiously and truthfully to promote human rights, rule of law, liberty and democracy, regardless of how politicians from major US political parties and the Communist Party of China (CPC) choose to express their opinions on this matter with regard to his relations with the New York University (NYU).


Let us examine the facts. It is a fact that CGC’s one-year visiting scholar’s appointment at the NYU has come to an end. It is also a fact that the NYU, in expectation of benefits from its engagement with China, has succumbed to pressure from the CPC and has asked CGC to (immediately) leave the University. Another very important fact is that Professor Cohen had more than once reassured CGC that the appointment would be renewed for another year at the end of its current term.

关于光诚与纽约大学(三)Mattie J. Bekink在《华尔街日报》的声明中说的纽约大学对光诚一家的关照都是事实;但说“在即将离开纽约大学的时候,陈光诚选择用虚假陈述中伤他在这所大学的朋友和支持者”不是事实!

Mattie J. Bekink correctly pointed out at her statement published in the Wall Street Journal that the NYU had taken very good care of CGC & his family. But there is no factual substance to her claim “that as his time at NYU comes to a close Mr. Chen chooses to malign his friends and supporters at the university with false statements.” None whatsoever!


The fact is, after CGC’s arrival at the NYU, the CPC did not sever ties with the NYU. Instead, it stepped up networking with the NYU, particularly towards the past six months. The carrot and stick approach towards the NYU had proven to be effective in preventing Professor Cohen from securing another term of appointment for CGC. After all, Professor Cohen is a loyal Democrat supporter.

关于光诚和纽约大学(五)压力除了来自中共、民主党、纽约大学,也来自科恩教授的身边,包括Mattie J. Bekink。科恩教授让光诚延期一年的努力失败。但纽约大学希望光诚不将学校受压屈从一事公开。

The pressure on Professor Cohen came not just from the CPC, the Democratic Party and the NYU, but also from people around Professor Cohen, including Mattie J. Bekink. Professor Cohen eventually failed in his effort to secure another year’s appointment for CGC. And the NYU also wanted CGC not to reveal in public that the University had been under pressure.


CGC is mostly grateful for the help he and his family have received from the NYU and from Professor Cohen. However, CGC is also a very honest man with integrity. It is not possible for him to turn a blind eye to the dishonorable tricks of the CPC and to pretend that evil does not exist. He is also not in a position to shield the NYU against public scrutiny.


Professor Cohen has been a dear friend of CGC for the last 10 years. To CGC, Professor Cohen is both a friend and a mentor. But CGC will not lie or be silenced, not even for the person whom he truly respects. What was even more perplexing for CGC was that the NYU took offense at accusations meant to be directed only towards the CPC and its unruly behavior. Consequently, Professor Cohen was made to step forward to deny that the University had been put under pressure.


This incident is further complicated by the politics the two major US political parties are playing against each other. Suddenly those from the Democrats to the Republicans, from liberals to conservatives, are all expressing their opinion on this matter and are promoting their views based on each other’s interpretation of events. Most significantly, Professor Cohen became the first person to accuse CGC of allying himself with conservative Republicans. The accusation adds another dimension of complexity to this incident.


As a matter of fact, since CGC’s arrival at the NYU, he has been put under strict protection; not everyone can gain access to him. CGC has only had brief meetings with conservative members from the Republican Party and with Bob Fu from a human rights religious organization called ChinaAid. Even senior US congressmen such as Frank Wolf and Chris Smith have experienced some difficulties when they requested to meet with CGC.


Meanwhile, CGC is spending most of his time with Professor Cohen, people at the NYU and members of the liberal Democratic Party. So it is absurd to suggest that CGC is under the influence of conservative Republicans.  To say so is to admit that the liberal Democrats are not influential!


Bekink says, “But his comments suggest that he is having a hard time accepting the reality of his new life. It is not the Chinese communist authorities who “want to make [him] so busy trying to earn a living that [he doesn’t] have time for human rights advocacy.” Rather it is life in capitalist America that requires individuals to support themselves.” These defamatory comments betray the fact that she does not understand CGC and she is too eager to come to the CPC’s defense.


I have recently been in regular contact with CGC. He assures me that he will continue to speak conscientiously and truthfully to promote human rights, rule of law, liberty and democracy. CGC is such an honest and sincere person that he will not hesitate to point out there is “an elephant in the room”. His honesty may have upset many people, including Professor Cohen and the NYU.

光诚与纽约大学(十三) 光诚一直希望美国两党超脱党派之争,共同面对中共当局的压力,支持中国人权、法治、自由和民主;但实际上确实非常困难。此次争论中,光诚也希望美国各方面的朋友直面中共当局的压力,而不将矛盾指向科恩教授。

It has long been CGC’s wish that the two major parties in the USA could come to a bipartisan agreement of the need to face up to pressure from the CPC in their supports for human rights, rule of law, liberty and democracy in China. This is obviously not an easy task. In this dispute, CGC also hopes his American friends can face up to pressure from the CPC. Instead, Professor Cohen was put under tremendous pressure to resolve the disagreement.


A special reminder to those who accuse CGC of taking bad advice from “people around him”:  Your allegation is utterly absurd. Both Professor Cohen and the NYU should be well aware that CGC is fully capable of independent thinking and impartial judgment. It is not likely for anyone to persuade him into blindly accepting certain views. If CGC were really as malleable as suggested, perhaps Professor Cohen and the NYU would have had an easier time exerting their influence on him.

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