If you're in Washington DC this evening, January 30, you have a chance to hear Chen Guangcheng speak about the "Search for China's Soul." Here is a picture of Chen from our "Brave Thinkers" issue last fall.
Details of the event, which is this year's Ignatius Forum at the Washington National Cathedral at 7:30pm, are here
After Chen speaks, I am going to moderate a panel discussion of the implications of his arguments and other indicators of the possibility / inevitability / impossibility of political reform and "soul"-fulness in general within modern China. The panel's members will be Jerome Cohen
of New York University Law School, Cheng Li
of Brookings, and Dorinda Elliott
of CondeNast and the Asia Society's new ChinaFile
project. Having known and talked with these people over the years, I am very much interested in hearing where they agree and disagree. And having interviewed Chen Guangcheng
several months ago, before the new Chinese leadership took over, I am looking forward to hear where his views have become more positive, less positive, or different in some other way. I will plan to report back in this space after the event.
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is a staff writer for The Atlantic
and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,
which has been a New York Times
best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.