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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference
Reports of the Proceedings

 

The 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference, organized by Initiatives for China (aka Citizen Power), was held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, Japan on November 14-17, 2017. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Advancing Human Rights, Democracy and Peace: New Tools, New Strategies, New Generation”.
The annual InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference was established in 2000 by Dr. Yang Jianli, the founder and president of Initiatives for China, during his chairmanship of the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. The Conference has received guidance and encouragement from Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is financially supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and other non-governmental organizations. Each year, the InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference brings together young human rights leaders from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao who come from a diverse set of ethnic groups (including Han Chinese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians, among others) and faiths (including Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Buddhists, and Muslims). Through its commitment to eliminating misunderstanding and hatred, and increasing mutual understanding and friendship, the Conference seeks to form a united front to promote a peaceful democratic transformation in China. As Dr. Yang Jianli said in his opening remarks at the first Conference, “It is the first time in history” that so many different ethnic, geographical and religious groups have gathered voluntarily without coercion. The previous 11 conferences were held in the United States, Taiwan, and India, as well as various other countries and regions.
Japanese Diet, Tokyo, Japan. April 16, 2017
This year, the 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference brought together approximately 60 human rights activists from around the world (including from China) representing the aforementioned groups. Participants had the chance to listen to lectures, took part in seminars, and received in-depth training. Speakers included President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, Australian MP Michael Danby, Japanese MPs, former Japanese MP Makino Seishu, the Dalai Lama’s East Asian representative Lung Tok, as well as scholars from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Germany. In addition, video presentations and written speeches from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Co-Chairmen of CECC Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith, US Senator Ted Cruz, Congresswoman and Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jim McGovern, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Former Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, Taiwan MPs Yu Mei-nu and Chen Hsueh-Sheng, and recently released young Hong Kong democratic leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Low were played or read at the opening ceremony.
Former Japanese MP Makino Seishu delivering welcome remarks to the conference participants. April 14, 2017
Mr. Lung Tok, Representatives of H.H. Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia.  April 14, 2017
Madam Ambassador Maysing Yang, Vice President of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Taiwan Ambassador at Large. April 14, 2017
Mr. Murakami Masatoshi, Former Japanese Member of Parliament. April 14, 2017
Ms. Kyinzom Dhongdue, Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Campaign Manager of Australia Tibet Council. April 14, 2017
Dr. Urgen, Vice Chairman of Southern Mongolia Congress. April 14, 2017
Mr. Lobsang Dakpa, Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, President of Tibet Legal Association. April 14, 2017
Dr. FEI Liangyong, Chairman of Forum for a Democratic China. April 14, 2017
Mr. Steve Bannon, Former White House Chief Strategist,  April 15, 2017
Guest presentations and seminars focused on three topics: new dilemmas and new opportunities, following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, for the aforementioned groups represented at the Conference; the Chinese Communist Party’s influence on, and threat to, the Asia-Pacific region; and forging an alliance of Asian democracies.
Mr. Luo Shihong lecturing Digital Security Workshop and UN Human Rights Mechanisms Workshop. April 15, 2017
The Conference’s training activities focused on three areas: how to take advantage of the UN’s mechanisms for protecting human rights; how to promote Magnitsky Act-type legislation in democratic countries; and how to investigate human rights violations and cases of corruption. On the basis of this training, Magnitsky Act-type laws will be promoted worldwide, creating a legal framework of accountability and punishment for Chinese officials who violate human rights.
Mr. Han Lianchao, Vice President of Initiative for China, lecturing: he Global Magnitsky Sanction Mechanism Workshop. April 16, 2017
The documentary In the Name of Confucius was shown at the conference and its director Doris Liu held a discussion with the participants. In the Name of Confucius is the first documentary exposé of China’s multi-billion dollar Confucius Institute (CI), a Chinese language program that have found their way into over 1,500 universities and schools worldwide. Beijing describes the CIs as an important part of China’s “overseas propaganda set up” and continues to open new institutes at a rate of one every week or two. Featuring the exclusive personal story of a former CI teacher, Sonia Zhao, whose defection and complaint let to the first closure of a CI on a North American campus, and the unprecedented outcry against Canada’s largest school board, the TDSB, over its plan to open the world’s largest CI, the film examines the growing global controversies surrounding the Confucius Institutes-loss of academic integrity, violations of human rights codes, foreign influence, and even potential infringements on national security.
Screening of documentary “In the name of Confucius”, and interviewing its director, Ms. Doris Liu. November 15, 2017
The Conference also featured the 2017 Citizen Power Awards Ceremony, which was held at the First Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives on November 16, 4:00-6:00pm JST. The three recipients are: Ms. Wang Qiaoling, who represents the families of the 709″ victims; Mr. Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar and prisoner of conscience who is currently serving life imprisonment in Xinjiang; and Mr. Makino Seishu, a vocal Japanese supporter of human rights in China. In 2015, Initiatives for China established the Citizen Power Award, in recognition of individuals and organizations from China and around the world who have helped to promote and advance democracy and human rights in China.
Australian MP Michael Danby and Dr. Yang Jianli Presents the Citizen Power Award to Ms. Wang Qiaoling. Madam Ambassador Maysing Yang of Taiwan Receives the Award on Ms. Wang’s behalf. November, 16, 2017
Mr. Enver Can, Chairman of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, receives the Citizen Power Award on behalf of Mr. Ilham Tohti.November, 16, 2017
Australia MP Michael Danby and Dr. Yang Jianli Presents the Citizen Power Award to Former Japanese MP Makino Seishu. November, 16, 2017
The Conference closed at noon on Nov.17 with an unanimously passed Declaration of Unity.
The 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference is co-organized by the Human Rights Foundation of Japan, the Forum for a Democratic China and Asia (Germany), the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the Tibet Legal Association, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, and the International Chinese-Tibetan Association. The Conference is sponsored by the US National Endowment for Democracy and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
We will comprehensively report the proceedings of the Conference in coming days.
Day I Report (1):
Footage of the Opening Ceremony
Overcoming Setbacks to the Advance of Democracy
By: Dr. Yang Jianli
Twelfth InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference – Opening Remarks
November 14th, 2017 – Tokyo, Japan
Distinguished guests and friends:
Welcome to you all.

The Twelfth InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference has finally begun. In the course of preparing for this year’s Conference, we suffered the heavy blow of the tragic passing of Liu Xiaobo, and our work came to a temporary standstill. The emergence of a new dictator at the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the political left-turn of the Xi Jinping regime, its brutal suppression of freedom of speech, and its tightening control over civil society, have caused this year’s Conference to face greater pressure than ever before.
Indeed, democracy is facing setbacks. This is not just a description of the suppressed democracy movement in powerful dictatorships like China, but also a description of the appeasing position and attitude of the world’s democracies toward authoritarian regimes like the CCP.
Precisely because of this fact, the convening of this year’s Conference is more important than ever, and poses additional challenges for us.
This is because the CCP regime-with its strong economic resources and military power, implausible political conservativeness, and determination to maintain its “Red Empire”-is implementing, both domestically and abroad, an overall strategy of divide-and-conquer, intimidation and coercion; whereas, relatively speaking, our forces for freedom are scattered.
The forces for freedom that I’m referring to, include, first of all, those of us who are directly promoting China’s democratization, including those who are fighting for freedom for all the ethnic groups, regions and religions that are directly related to China and represented by the participants of the InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference. Faced with the powerful state apparatus of the CCP, we have no choice. Today, we must further eliminate the barriers between us through greater tolerance and understanding. We must accrue wisdom and enhance our capabilities with greater insight and determination. We must embark on an earnest path of helping each other, supporting each other, and working together in unity.
The forces for freedom to which I’m referring also include the world’s democracies, especially democratic countries in Asia.
It is often said that the 21st century is the century of Asia. In fact, the 21st century is a century for everyone-whether it’s good or bad will ultimately depend on each of us. The situation in Asia isn’t as favorable as some prognosticators describe it. Perhaps just the opposite is true: In Asia, a tipping point of crises is nearing, which may engender global problems: North Korea’s nuclear weapons program; disputes in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait; India-Pakistan tensions; the environment, population, and refugees; unpredictable political changes in China; and so on. Meanwhile, Asia lacks a multinational coalition to collectively respond to these crises, especially a coalition of democracies. We should see that the source of the most acute crisis that Asia is facing-or the difficulty of eliminating these crises-is the political tyranny in certain countries. Therefore, Asian democracies should form an alliance to fight against threats from authoritarian regimes. Japan, as Asia’s most powerful democracy, should play a leadership role in the formation of such an alliance. Objectively, the formation of a regional alliance with democratic nations at its core will play a catalytic role in the democratization in China. Otherwise, an integrated Asia dominated by the CCP regime would be based on a completely different value system. Once formed, it would become a nightmare for Asian democratic countries and a further setback for the entire free world. It is no exaggeration to say that now is the critical moment that determines whether Asia is defined and triumphed by democracy or by tyranny.
Because China’s growing economic strength has been used by the CCP regime to enhance, firstly, its military power, Japan faces the following reality: China is replacing Japan to become the most powerful nation in Asia, and the political philosophy of Chinas leaders is extremely regressive; whether domestically or abroad, it disregards any rules that are unfavorable to it. China has already become a real threat to peace in Asia. However, with China’s massive size, simple military confrontation is unthinkable. Only by helping China to achieve modernization in the complete sense-i.e., political democratization-can Asia achieve real peace.
In preparing for this Conference, I actively contacted and engaged in exchange with Japan’s various political parties, groups and factions. A friend of mine kindly warned me that Japan’s leftist, centrist and rightist parties each has its own position on China; and that it would be wishful thinking to expect to be able to balance the parties. Admittedly, I have experienced these difficulties firsthand. However, I’m satisfied with the achievements that we have made to date. I will not give up on further efforts. While speaking at Meiji University this April, I proposed three points of China-related consensus that should be shared by each of Japan’s ruling and opposition parties. Here, I want to reiterate these three points:
1.    An expansive, undemocratic and uncivilized neighboring regime is unfavorable to Japan’s security and democratic lifestyle.
2.    Japan’s historical feelings of guilt are toward the Chinese people, and should not be toward the CCP. Japan has never let down the Chinese Communist Party. Supporting democratization and the improvement of human rights conditions in China will eventually help to resolve the Chinese people’s hatred towards Japan.
3.    Japan is Asia’s most powerful democracy, and should have more self-confidence and a greater sense of moral responsibility to help democratize China.
I hope the three aforementioned points will get more people thinking.
Distinguished guests and friends, the theme of this year’s Conference is “Advancing Human Rights, Democracy and Peace: New Tools, New Strategies, New Generation”. In the 21st century, China, Japan and Asia in its entirety need to promote the broad acceptance of human rights and democratic values in Asia and establish a permanent peace mechanism. This should be an integral part of the InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference. I hope this year’s Conference can contribute, both in attitudes and actions, to overcoming setbacks to the advance of global democracy.
Thank you.
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