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Chen Guangcheng in New York: An Interview

In China, how do you seek a balance between human rights of individuals and the overall development of the entire country?

CG: I want to answer your question, first, with an example. Before I entered prison, I planted two trees outside my home. When I returned, one tree had grown thick and the other tree was thin. One way to look at this is to look at the US, which has taken over two hundred years to try to build a fair society and maybe it has been 80–90 percent successful. But China has had thousands of years and we’ve always had an authoritarian government or a dictatorship and we have only achieved fairness and justice of 10 percent plus. We can compare this kind of balance. I saw in the news today that a Chinese official in Guangdong province owns 192 luxury homes and yet, in the countryside, during the cold winter, maybe 2 or 3 percent have the conditions that allow them to stay warm.

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