Lorne Craner, President of the International Republican Institute, (IRI) and Ken Wollack, President of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), met with a delegation from the China Foundation for Human Rights Development. The meeting provided an opportunity for Craner and Wollack to discuss the evolution and status of human rights in China with the foundation’s Chairman, Huang Mengfu, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress.
Huang stated that improving the rule of law is a priority for China as it continues to build upon a human rights record that has already shown a significant amount of progress over the past 30 years. Huang noted, “True improvement of human rights comes through improvement in the rule of law.”
Craner and Wollack agreed, pointing to the increased amount of space for civil society organizations to operate in Sichuan following the May 2008 earthquake as proof of the value of a strong civil society and the importance for government to cooperate with citizens.
Craner and Wollack also discussed elections with the group, focusing on the importance of independent voters and the necessity and value for elected leaders to continually return to their constituents for approval of actions and policies.
Finally, Craner spoke about the work of IRI and NDI. He explained that the institutes work in countries to assist people, “We are patient and do not desire changes that come quickly or at the expense of important things such as stability.”
The meeting proved an excellent opportunity for Huang, Craner, and Wollack to open lines of communication and begin a dialogue based upon mutual trust and understanding.