Dr. Yang Jianli is a scholar and democracy activist internationally recognized for his efforts to promote democracy in China. He has been involved in the Chinese democracy movement since the 1980s. He participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests and fled to the U.S. following the massacre. Despite having been “blacklisted,” Dr. Yang returned to China to support the labor movement in 2002 and was detained by the Chinese regime. In 2004, Dr. Yang was sentenced to five years in prison for espionage and illegal entry, most of which was spent in solitary confinement. Following an international outcry for his release, including a UN Resolution and a unanimous vote of both houses of the U.S. Congress, Dr. Yang was freed in April of 2007.
Upon his return to the U.S, Dr. Yang founded Initiatives for China, a.k.a. Citizen Power for China, an organization that promotes China’s peaceful transition to democracy. He firmly believes that continued world democracies’ leadership in holding China accountable for respecting the human and political rights of its citizens is a critical component for world stability and for the peaceful transition to a democratic society in China.
In March 2010 Dr. Yang co-chaired the Committee on Internet Freedom at the Geneva Human Rights and Democracy Summit. In December 2010 Dr.Yang represented Liu Xiaobo at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. In December 2011, Dr. Yang, joined H.H. Dalai Lama and four other delegates, to attend Forum 2000 hosted by former Czech president, Vaclav Havel. Dr.Yang is a recipient of numerous international human rights awards including the 2012 UN Watch Abram Human Rights Award and the 2012 Harvard KSG Alumni Achievement Award.
Dr. Yang co-authored the Constitution of a Federal Democratic China. He holds PhDs in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and in political economy from Harvard University.