The author Zhang Lijia was one of the first journalists who introduced the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng to Western media, now 12 years ago. After his daring escape, they found now time to meet at NYU in New York, Zhang Lijia tells on her weblog.
Chen never fails to surprise me. When I told him that although we have not seen each other, I’ve been following his movement, he replied: “I’ve been following you, too. Even I was in jail, I’ve heard you about your memoir. Socialism is Great, right?” My eyes widened. How? A smiled blossomed on his face. “I told you that there are only things you dare not thing about. Nothing can’t be done.” He then summarized the book for his wife.
Turning to her, he said:“I’ve always told you that meeting Lijia was the turning point in my life.” He said I dared to think, dare to act and I wasn’t frightened of anything. I felt extremely flattered by his comment. I think my articles had helped to introduce him to the western media and expanded his contact with the outside world. “It was you who introduced the idea of NGO to me,” he said at one point…
Chen asked me what kinds of advice I would give him. I said probably not granting too many interviews to journalists. “If
I were you,” I said, “I’d take this opportunity to study law and to get to know American society.” Another important thing, I said, was to be mindful of the tricky American politics, avoiding to used by American politicians, especially the Republican. In fact, I was very impressed with the way he has carried himself in the US. I know all sorts people, politicians, Falungongers, anti-abortion people and of course, the old generation of dissidents, have all tried to court him and he has stayed cool. I am sure that his mentor Jerry Cohen, a renowned law professor from NYU, has given him plenty of sensible suggestions.
Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in your speakers’ request form.
More on Zhang Lijia and China’s moral crisis at Storify.