Communist Party 'owes the Chinese people an apology'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 March, 2009, 12:00am

Ching Cheong, chief China correspondent for The Straits Times who spent more than 1,000 days in detention on the mainland before his release a year ago on parole, was the guest speaker at the 13th Annual Human Rights Press Awards.

His personal experiences, he said, had taught him to appreciate the core values of Hong Kong: freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

He asked journalists to remain vigilant and called on the Chinese Communist Party to stop treating human rights as if it were an alien notion that was not Chinese.

'In fact, human rights, democracy and freedom, along with socialism, were the watchwords for the founders of the CCP, like Professor Chen Duxiu,' stemming originally from a 17th-century Ming dynasty scholar, he said.

Before 1949 the CCP advocated human rights, Ching said.

'Between 1949 and 1976, the total number of unnatural deaths amounted to 40 million to 60 million, according to different estimates by both Chinese and western scholars.

'The World Health Organisation's 2002 'Report on Violence' called it one of the four calamities of mankind in the 20th century. I think the CCP owes the Chinese people an apology. It should seriously consider the proposal by many legal experts in the mainland to declare a special pardon for political prisoners - on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China - to prove that it [will begin] a fresh start with the people.'