forwarded from Scott Savitt

From Jonathan Lassen <>
Date Tue, 27 Apr 2004 13:07:44 -0400 (EDT)

Dear Stephen: 

I opened this message just after getting off the telephone with 
Harry, so I am moved to share some thoughts. There is no doubt that 
Harry is a controversial figure. As I continually maintain regarding 
Wei Jingsheng, "You try spending two decades in the Chinese prison 
system and not come out with some idiosyncracies." I trust that you 
will at least lend some credence to this "before you mock a man, try 
walking a mile in his moccasins" viewpoint. 

Regarding being taken seriously, Harry is the National Endowment of 
Democracy's chosen dissident, to the tune of a multi-million dollar 
annual budget. He produces,, and, all impressive 
websites whether you agree with them ideologically or not. 

I have spent a lot of time with Harry. He is far from perfect, but 
anyone reading this message who is, cast the first stone. What he 
does do is work tirelessly, on average more than 16 hours a day seven 
days a week, trying to promote progressive change in China. There are 
many activists both within China and in exile who are able to 
continue their work because of Harry's commitment (and, yes, your and 
my tax dollars). 

Contrary to the charges in the articles you cite below (not exactly 
calmly reasoned pieces of prose), Harry lives quite frugally. He is 
married to a very kind, compassionate woman from Taiwan, and their 
lives revolve around their work. Anyone with a passing acquaintance 
with contemporary China has witnessed corrupt lifestyles, both among 
Party and government officials and Hong Ding Shang Ren (Red-Hat 
Businesspeople). The charges of corruption in your below-cited 
articles do not stick to Harry. 

Last, but not least, Harry is very open to criticism (also not a 
trait in ample supply among Chinese politicians and activists 
spanning the ideological spectrum). I have raised virtually all the 
arguments contained in the below-cited articles with him, and he 
patiently listens and readily admits that he is not perfect and has 
made mistakes in his writing and work. But my personal conclusion is 
that his work is valuable and motivation as altruistic as an 
imperfect human being's can be. Anyone who doubts this, I am happy to 
supply with Harry's cell phone number. He will take your call, and 
calmly converse and debate with you all of the criticisms these 
articles contain. 

One of my biggest sources of distress with the Chinese activist 
community, and indeed activist communities in general, is the 
penchant for casual character assassination. I am confident that 
anyone reading this message who genuinely hopes for positive 
political change in China (and the world), will emerge from a 
conversation with Harry Wu with--if not agreement with everything he 
says--at least respect for his hard work and commitment to effecting 
progressive change in China.