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Tiananmen's Leader Champions Freedom

Urges U.S. to maintain 'moral' foreign policy

By Joshua L. Kwan, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Wang Dan, the recently-released Chinese dissident and student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, visited America's oldest university yesterday, sharing his burden to fulfill the dreams of massacred students and his hopes for fostering democracy in China.

"As somebody who survived, I carry the blood of all those who did die," Wang said through a translator in his appearance at Harvard's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.

"And so I vow to make every effort to carry on the work. This is what I mean by giving my life to the democracy movement in China," he said.

After a brief and polite introductory statement, Wang fielded a variety of questions in his first major question-and-answer session since his release from prison and immediate exile to the United States 10 days ago.

"I hope United States foreign policy will maintain moral standards," Wang said. "I guess the U.S. has its own interests to look out for. But this doesn't prevent us from raising moral demands."

In his seven years of imprisonment, Wang said he had plenty of time to reflect on his role in the Tiananmen Square massacre, known in Chinese as 6-4, as in June 4.

"If t here is an outbreak of [another] democracy movement in China," Wang said to thunderous applause, "I would definitely join."

"I hope I'll be more mature than in 1989," he added.

Humility was a common refrain in Wang's answers as he deflected praise and admiration from the audience of about 150 students, faculty and well-wishers--many of whom were ethnic Chinese and even included a handful of fellow democracy demonstrators.

After one audience member introduced himself as an ordinary student, Wang interjected: "I hope that people will see me as an ordinary student, too."

When asked if he would have cheered or protested Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Harvard last October, Wang deferred judgment and joked that it would have depended on whether he had class that day.

A second questioner noted that classes did not stop him from demonstrating in 1989.

Pressed to make a choice, Wang finally answered to loud applause: "I believe in putting democracy before patriotism as a Chinese."

"The Fairbank Center was criticized for inviting Jiang Zemin, and it will be criticized for inviting me," Wang said. "There should be a free exchange of ideas. That's the tradition of a teaching university like Harvard."

Wang side-stepped several questions about his feelings towards demonstrators who fled China and escaped jail to safety and prosperity in the U.S., while he labored in prison.

Wang slowly warmed to the audience, especially after a white woman with a baby perched in her arms inquired about his health in halting Mandarin.

He occasionally helped his translator withEnglish phrases and demonstrated the breadth ofhis scholarship by quoting Churchill's famousquip: "Democracy is the worst system except forall the others."

Donning a navy blue suit, starched white shirtand tie, Wang sat stiffly between a translator andMerle D. Goldman, an associate of the FairbankCenter and professor at Boston University.

While serving time in a prison camp, Wang saidhe read Weatherhead University Professor Samuel P.Hungtington's Clash of Civilizations andGoldman's Sowing the Seeds of Democracy inChina, which features Wang in his role as aleader in the 1989 demonstrations.

He said he was able to read the works,including another book that presented anunfriendly view of China, because his jailers didnot understand English.

Wang received a copy of Goldman's book fromWang Jungtao, another dissident and Wang's mentor,who later arranged for Wang Dan's visit toHarvard.

According Goldman, Wang will take ESL coursesat Harvard Summer School.

Wang said he hopes to pursue a doctorate inmodern Chinese history at Harvard during his exilein America.

"The reason I'm interested in studying hardright now is to be better able to participate infuture democracy movements," Wang explained

He occasionally helped his translator withEnglish phrases and demonstrated the breadth ofhis scholarship by quoting Churchill's famousquip: "Democracy is the worst system except forall the others."

Donning a navy blue suit, starched white shirtand tie, Wang sat stiffly between a translator andMerle D. Goldman, an associate of the FairbankCenter and professor at Boston University.

While serving time in a prison camp, Wang saidhe read Weatherhead University Professor Samuel P.Hungtington's Clash of Civilizations andGoldman's Sowing the Seeds of Democracy inChina, which features Wang in his role as aleader in the 1989 demonstrations.

He said he was able to read the works,including another book that presented anunfriendly view of China, because his jailers didnot understand English.

Wang received a copy of Goldman's book fromWang Jungtao, another dissident and Wang's mentor,who later arranged for Wang Dan's visit toHarvard.

According Goldman, Wang will take ESL coursesat Harvard Summer School.

Wang said he hopes to pursue a doctorate inmodern Chinese history at Harvard during his exilein America.

"The reason I'm interested in studying hardright now is to be better able to participate infuture democracy movements," Wang explained

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