2008 Democracy Award

June 22, 2008
05:00 pm - 07:00 pm

On Tuesday June 22, 2008, the National Endowment for Democracy honored the heroic efforts of Chinese workers, lawyers, and writers working to advance democratic values and fundamental rights within China with the presentation of its annual Democracy Award. Lawyers Li Baiguang and Li Heping were able to attend the Capitol Hill ceremony to accept their awards, while four other honorees, Chen Guangcheng, Zhang Jianhong, Yao Fuxin and Hu Shigen, who are all serving sentences in Chinese prisons, were honored in absentia, along with Dr. Teng Biao, a lawyer and professor who is unable to leave China.

In 2008, the Democracy Awards focused on work in the areas of:

  • Human Rights and Rule of Law
  • Religious Freedom
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Worker Rights

The Awards were presented by:

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ): Human Rights and Rule of Law to Teng Biao and Chen Guangcheng

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Freedom of Expression to Zhang Jianhong (pen name, Li Hong)

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA):  Religious Freedom to Li Baiguang and Li Heping

  • Richard Gephardt, Then Vice-Chairman of NED’s Board of Directors and the former House Minority Leader:
    Worker Rights to Yao Fuxin and Hu Shigen

Additional speakers at the award ceremony included:

Vin Weber, Chairman, NED Board of Directors

Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky 

Carl Gershman, NED President

  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA)
  • Wang Tiancheng, another Chinese lawyer who has spent 5 years in prison for his activism, accepted the award given to Yao Fuzin and Hu Shigen for their defense of worker rights.

Read Honorees’ Full Remarks

Law, Rights and Democracy in China: Perspectives of Leading Advocates

The award presentation was preceded by a roundtable discussion, Law, Rights and Democracy in China: Perspectives of Leading Advocates. The honorees were joined in the discussion by other notable activists and advocates for basic rights in China, including:

  • Han Dongfang, executive director of China Labour Bulletin
  • Bob Fu, founder of the China Aid Association and a student leader of te 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement
  • Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China
  • Xiao Qiang, founder and publisher of China Digital Times
  • Wang Tiancheng, a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of China and the Free Labor Union of China
  • Yang Jianli, a Chinese democracy activist recently released from prison, who now is president of Initiatives for China.

Read full biographies.

Democracy Service Medal

At this ceremony, NED also honored the life-long contributions of one of the US Congress’ most stalwart supporters of human rights in China and every other part of the world, the late Tom Lantos (D-CA) with the presentation of its Democracy Service Medal.


We would like to thank the following for their contribution toward this event:

Hurford Foundation

American Federation of Teachers

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.

We also wish to acknowledge the gracious assistance of John Brademas and Mark Palmer.