D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

Advancement of Rights


                            The Advancement of Rights

Xu Zhiyong ( 许志永) may be best known for his foundation in May 2012 of the New Citizens' Movement (新公民运动). However, the founding of the NCM may be regarded as June 2010. This corresponded with the Open Letter called The Citizens' Pledge regarding civil rights' awareness. One of the key components of the pledge was "Equal Rights for Education". One specific campaign was to abolish the hukou restriction in gaokao (college admission exam) for migrants' children in large cities.

Scholarism (學民思潮)in Hong Kong developed independently from the New Citizens' movement on the mainland. It defended the autonomy of Hong Kong's education policy from Beijing's influence. It then participated in the Umbrella Movement (雨傘運動).

Ironically, one thing that both the New Citizens' Movement and Scholarism had in common was educational policy. While certain individuals in both groups were prominent one might say that both groups were leaderless. However, they differed in the maturity of their members. The NCM was composed of an assortment of older and more mature scholars, lawyers, journalists and activists. Scholarism was composed of younger secondary students. This meant that the NCM in terms of educational policy was an inclusive movement. They wanted peasants to have an equal opportunity with the wealthy. Scholarism can be defined as being exclusive or independent of the mainland's educational system.

There is another difference in thought though in evolution of the two movements with regard to education. Generally speaking, members of the NCM had completed their education and had begun their careers. As a result, they were oriented to practical ways to meet their goals. On the other hand, demonstrations interrupted the education of the participants of Scholarism to pursue higher education. They were successful in forcing the government to retract indoctrination through moral and national education.To be summarily succinct, NCM sought "for" something to be enacted while Scholarism fought "against" something to be redacted; namely, inclusion and exclusion respectively. This meant that the defining trait of Scholarism was reactive while NCM was constructive.

However, the antecedent and precedent of the NCM with respect to Xu Zhiyong was his legal defence of the two Suns; namely Sun Zhigang and Sun Dawu. The former was a graduate of Wuhan University of Science and Technology. He went to Guangzhou to work for Daji Garment Company. He had been detained after being unable to produce his temporary living permit (暫住証) and his identity card when he was stopped by the police. He had not applied for the former and had forgotten the later in Wuhan. Within three days of his arrest he was savagely beaten by police and died. As a result, it was argued by the defence team on his behalf that the C&R law for migrant workers was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated citizens' rights articles of the Constitution.

Xu Zhiyong was also part of the legal team that defended the private businessman Sun Dawu. This was another case that made international headlines. Sun was accused of establishing an illegal credit co-operative at the village of Langwuzhuang, Hebei. To paraphrase Sun, though, there is no legal means to raise funds. However, corporate executives among whom were his brothers were also arrested and the whole business was shut down. The author also was put under house arrest for three days beginning May 28, 2003. He was establishing a college at the site during the SARS crisis.

The Sun Zhigang and Sun Dawu incidents marked the beginning of the civil right's movement in China. There were two achievements of the movement. The first was The Open Constitution Initiative (公盟) which spoke up for rule of law and constitutionalism. The most lasting achievement was the establishment of China's first Private Entrepreneurial Constitutional System in 2004 by the Dawu Group. All workers are potential leaders whose responsibilities are to manage the business. It provides free elections every two years. Everyone must vote.

D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi