As the United States-China trade war unfolds, I see a tremendous opportunity to make political reform a part of the negotiations. In the 1990s, when Washington linked the granting of China’s most favorable trading status with human rights, the Chinese government bowed to the pressure by relaxing its political control and releasing me and several other dissidents. But once trade and human rights were delinked, the situation there deteriorated drastically.
Today, dissidents are being imprisoned and forced to confess on national TV. The government monitors and censors the political views of students studying abroad.
In a perverse way, President Trump’s tough stance against Beijing, despite its unpredictability, is proving effective. Through this trade war, I hope Washington will show the Chinese leadership that the West will not tolerate the use of technology for spying and controlling ordinary citizens.