BBG Watch Commentary
Chinese writer and democracy activist Wei Jingsheng, who had spent a total of 18 years as a political prisoner in China, addressed the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open board meeting as a member of the public.
Wei Jingsheng authored the essay, “Fifth Modernization,” which was posted on the “Democracy Wall” in Beijing in 1978. He was deported to the United States in 1997. He was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1996, the National Endowment for Democracy Award in 1997, the Olof Palme Memorial Prize in 1994, and the International Activist Award by the Gleitsman Foundation.
Wei Jingsheng is a regular contributor to Radio Free Asia (RFA) programs. In his comments, he criticized both Voice of America (VOA) and RFA for giving too much weight to statements of China’s communist government. Wei Jingsheng said that this trend is costing the BBG a loss of audience in China. He suggested to BBG members that they should hire independent outside evaluators of VOA and RFA program content instead of relying mostly on in-house evaluations.
Wei Jingsheng also made a strong appeal for retaining shortwave radio broadcasting to China by pointing out that there are hundreds of millions of poor people in China who can’t afford the Internet. VOA and RFA websites are blocked by the Chinese authorities inside China.