On the eve of the return of Hong Kong to China, Human Rights in China calls upon the Chinese government to mark this historic occasion by releasing all prisoners of conscience currently being held in China. By releasing Wei Jingsheng, Wang Dan, and others jailed for peacefully advocating the rule of law, freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights - all values that have been fundamental to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong - the Chinese government can demonstrate to the people of Hong Kong and the world its intention to uphold these values in Hong Kong and to move toward a political system that guarantees them throughout China.
The futures of Hong Kong and China are now one. The trend toward democracy and government accountability that was belatedly initiated by the British colonial rulers should not be curtailed, but reinforced. Indeed, it should be expanded within mainland China itself. The release of all political prisoners in China is the first step in this process. If Hong Kong is to remain a model of freedom, stability, and prosperity for the rest of China, the Chinese government must show to the people of Hong Kong and the world that it respects the rule of law and the right of every one of its 1.2 billion citizens to peacefully voice their opinions without the fear of repression. Only when China is ruled by the Chinese people themselves, including the peoples of Hong Kong, can it be assured of prosperity, stability, and dignity. Only then can China hold its head up as one of the truly great nations of the world.