Chai Ling: I forgive Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng and the soldiers
Two years after her dramatic conversion to Christianity, Chai Ling (柴玲), one of the foremost student leaders in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has declared in a new op-ed published on the Huffington Post that she forgives all those responsible for the crackdown, including Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng.
In the article, Chai Ling draws upon the Old Testament story of Absalom’s usurping of the throne from his father King David. The king’s generals eventually captured and killed Absalom even though he had warned them to “deal gently” with him.
“There is little true security in China, even for leaders,” says the author of A Heart for Freedom. “I know that those responsible for oppression in China will also find themselves vulnerable one day, just like Absalom did.”
Towards the end, Chai Ling says Jesus freed her from her years of “bitterness and anger” at political leaders and soldiers who stormed the square:
Because of Jesus, I forgive them. I forgive Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng. I forgive the soldiers who stormed Tiananmen Square in 1989. I forgive the current leadership of China, who continue to suppress freedom and enforce the brutal One Child Policy.
I pray that a culture of grace will arise in China, giving all people dignity and humanity. I pray that the China’s current leaders will follow Jesus and act with mercy and compassion. I pray that those who have suffered under oppression will not seek vengeance — like King David’s soldiers did when they killed Absalom — but have the courage to forgive. Forgiveness does not justify wrong, but rather yields the power of judgment to God.
I understand such forgiveness is countercultural. Yet it is only a small reflection of the forgiveness that Jesus gave, and I was filled with peace when I followed him in forgiving. When forgiveness arises, a lasting peace can finally reign. [Read full account here]
Chai Ling’s former compatriot Wang Dan quickly distanced himself from her declaration. In a post on Facebook, Wang wrote:
Media reports have carried Chai Ling’s declaration of forgiveness for Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, saying she believes that only tolerance will lead to peace. She also says that she is praying daily for them.
I have full respect for Chai Ling’s personal faith which led her to this conclusion, but I cannot fully agree with her. I believe that if the killers haven’t shown any remorse, or apologised, and are continuing to kill others, victims have no basis for forgiveness. This sort of forgiveness is a great injustice to the victims of the June 4.
I would like the world to know that Chai Ling’s words only represent herself and her faith, and they do not speak for the bulk of the 1989 students.
I would also like to urge Chai Ling to make a clear distinction between her personal faith and the judgement of what’s right and wrong.
Read about Chai Ling’s conversion experience here.