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Notes and Renderings

Advocating for Chinese Dissidents—and a Dad

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Times Wang and Jerome Cohen

During the last year, Professor of Law Jerome Cohen has kept up pressure on China, writing many op-eds about Gao Zhisheng, a leading human rights lawyer known as the “conscience of China” who was stripped of his law license and convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” in 2006.

Gao disappeared in 2009, reappeared briefly after protests from rights groups, and disappeared again in April 2010. “It appears that the government fears Mr. Gao, even under house arrest, more than it fears the international community’s condemnation of his renewed ‘disappearance,’” wrote Cohen and Beth Schwanke, legislative counsel for Freedom Now, in the Wall Street Journal in May.

For Times Wang ’11, one of Cohen’s students, the situation is personal. His father, Wang Bingzhang, has been a political prisoner since 2003. On the eve of Barack Obama’s first visit to China, in November 2009, the younger Wang wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, urging U.S. action against China for human-rights abuses. Adding that his father was a nominee for the Nobel Prize that Obama had just been awarded, he wrote, “It is especially appropriate that Obama should confront human-rights issues on this trip; within Chinese prisons sit numerous Peace Prize nominees.”

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