“Of course, internal problems cannot be solved overnight but must be constantly addressed as part of a long-term process. Mistakes and shortcomings will be inevitable, but these are for us to worry about. This is infinitely better than facing abusive overlords against whom there is no redress. Those who worry that democracy will lead to anarchy and chaos are just like those who, following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, worried that without an emperor the country would fall into chaos. Their decision was to patiently suffer oppression because they feared that without the weight of oppression, their spines might completely collapse! To such people, I would like to say, with all due respect: We want to be the masters of our own destiny. We need no gods or emperors and we don’t believe in saviors of any kind…we do not want to serve as mere tools of dictators with personal ambitions for carrying out modernization. We want to modernize the lives of the people. Democracy, freedom, and happiness for all are our sole objectives”
Wei Jingsheng, excerpt from “Fifth Modernization” essay posted on Democracy Wall (late 1978) The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings, pp. 208–10.