Turning 50, Tiananmen Activist Vows to Find Solution for China

Wang Dan at his 50th birthday celebration. (Photo via World Journal)

Wang Dan, a major student leader of the democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, celebrated his 50th birthday on Feb. 23 in Flushing, surrounded by pro-democracy Chinese friends. Looking back to the zigzagging and bumpy road he took to pursue democracy, Wang said slogans and empty talk cannot lead China to a better future. It needs people in different fields to unify and find a solution together.

Xiang Xiaoji, associate director of the think tank Dialogue China who led the student delegation in the dialogue with the government during the movement, Hu Ping, former editor in chief of Beijing Spring magazine, and his wife Wang Ai and others gathered at the party in Flushing to celebrate for Wang.

Chen Pokong, a political commentator and the emcee of the event, said that at the time of the movement, Wang was only 20. In the 30 years since then, he has sustained his dream of overthrowing autocracy, and he still looks as young as he was then, said Pokong. Chen said the party was to give people with the same dream an opportunity to offer their best wishes to Wang – and to themselves.

Wang said he was really grateful for the party that friends organized for him. “I have made many choices in my 50 years of life,” said Wang. “Now by wrapping up my career as a teacher in Taiwan and moving back to the U.S., I put myself again in a situation where I have to decide what I want to do in the future.”

Wang also said that his age and life experience don’t allow him to just “shout some slogans” about China’s future or to keep criticizing the Chinese government without providing ideas. “I hope to mobilize people in different fields to come up with some concrete policy recommendations and proposals via discussion and dialogue for China’s future,” Wang said.

In addition, Wang added, life is not only about politics – family and friends are crucial components of life. He offered his birthday wish to his parents’ health. “Another wish I would like to make is for the think tank to grow stronger, and for China to see the blossoming of freedom one day,” Wang said.

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