DALLAS, April 4, 2013 ( – Blind pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng and his family met with former President George W. Bush at the Bush Institute in Dallas on Wednesday, as Chen received an award for defending freedom and the rule of law.

Chen met with the former world leader and his wife, Laura, privately prior to participating in a live internet broadcast for the George W. Bush Institute's Freedom Collection.

During the broadcast, Chen, who fled to the United States last year after his family was persecuted for speaking out about forced abortions and other human rights abuses related to China’s infamous one-child policy, spoke with Bush Institute Executive Director James Glassman about America’s relations with China.


Chen urged the U.S. to keep the pressure on China with regard to its ongoing human rights abuses.

Human rights, he said, should be the “foundation of diplomacy and not just part of diplomacy.”

“I think the United States should stand firm on the principle of human rights and not compromise for the sake of business relationships,” he said.

The activist warned viewers not to expect much in the way of reform from the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping. “[H]e was part of the past leadership as well,” said Chen. “The Chinese Communist Party wants to propagandize their system. Their focus is on retaining absolute power.”

“In China, the government is a tool used by the Communist Party,” added Chen. “The Communist Party authorities can do whatever they want – they are the highest authority, not the government.”

Chen said that people hoping for real change in China should focus more on changing the culture and less on changing the leadership.

“For China to truly change,” Chen said, “there must be a grassroots movement about the rule of law and understanding democracy. It's not to expect one savior-leader to change China.”

Americans could use the internet to improve the human rights situation in China, he suggested.

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“Today, in the information age, the world is getting smaller,” said Chen, “so there’s a lot the average American can do. Of course, it depends on people’s specialties and callings. People can blog…there are a lot of things that people can do, no matter where you are.”

Using online translators such as Google Translate to monitor Chinese media to stay informed is another method he recommended.

Chen, 41, was in Texas to receive an award from humanr ights watchdog group ChinaAid. Chen accepted ChinaAid’s “Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Defenders Award” at the group’s annual banquet in Midland on Tuesday.

ChinaAid president Bob Fu said, “Chen Guangcheng, his wife Yuan Weijing and his whole family have paid a heavy price for their great contribution in protecting and advancing life and liberty for millions in China. We are proud of to be part of the fight for these honorable causes with the Chen family and many other freedom fighters in China like Chen.”

Fu added, “Until China achieves true freedom and the rule of law, we will continue to stand with Chen –and never rest.”