Chai Ling, a key student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement and two-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, is no stranger to fighting uphill battles. She is the founder of All Girls Allowed, a movement intended to expose the truth behind China’s one-child policy. A policy which has propelled China into female gendercide, child abandonment, child trafficking, and violations of women’s reproductive rights.
Ling was gracious enough to answer some questions regarding her powerful memoir A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China’s Daughters—available from Vyrso—as well as the important mission of All Girls Allowed.
Vyrso: You were considered, at the age of 23, to be a criminal for your role in Tiananmen. How did this prepare you for your leading All Girls Allowed and fighting the injustices of China’s one-child policy?
Chai Ling: Learning to cope with rejection for doing the right thing has been an important part of my life following Tiananmen. Learning to stand in the face of injustice knowing that it will cost me something—this was worth every hardship because of the results we’re seeing now in China. I’ve learned that the cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of doing the right thing. And so I am not surprised that God used the Tiananmen experience to prepare me for this new mission.
Vyrso: After 22 years, what do you think the legacy of Tiananmen is for China?
Chai Ling: After Tiananmen, there was a spiritual revolution that swept throughout China. We do not know why millions and millions turned to Jesus following the massacre, but we know that today there are over 150,000,000 followers of Christ in China. That in itself is an important statistic to remember, especially because of its relation to Tiananmen. It’s been a legacy for the whole world. I remember watching Eastern Europe and Russia change following our movement, and I remember when recently, when asked about the uprising in Egypt, a general said to a reporter: “This is not Beijing and this will not be another Tiananmen Square.” Our sacrifice has made a global impact.
Vyrso: How did becoming a Christian challenge the way you looked at China’s policies?
Chai Ling: I used to be afraid of China’s leaders and their power to hurt me or my family. Directly before becoming a Christian, I suffered a panic attack on a flight to DC in response to threats coming from China. But today I realize that leaders are only given authority by God, for a time, if He decides. He has all the power and knows about every human rights abuse, every mother and every child affected by China’s policies. He knows the future and has it under control. Now I can openly speak about the problem of the one-child policy as well as US-China relations because I am not afraid and I know change is coming.
Vyrso: What do you consider to be the long-term effects of China’s one-child policy on the nation?
Chai Ling: There are many negative effects that have been widely reported yet not truly addressed. For one, China has a shortage of women. 37,000,000 men will look for brides and find none, because over 37,000,000 girls have been killed since the one-child policy was created in 1980. Families keep sons and dispose of daughters—and this has created such a bride shortage that trafficking has sharply increased. In addition, each single child has the responsibility of caring for 6 older people. There is no safety net or social security in China. All of these elderly citizens will need care—and China’s workforce is thinning out annually. Such an imbalance of men has also historically led to domestic turmoil and even war with neighboring countries. As China’s military spending has increased 12% annually for several years, it may be only a matter of time before the country experiences this sort of phenomenon. Most of the single men are poor, unemployed and without any women in their entire village (most women leave to find work elsewhere). If China goes to war with Taiwan, they will have a massive army.
We will be featuring the second part of our interview with Chai Ling soon! In the meantime, you can pick up A Heart for Freedom at Vyrso.com today!