279. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Human Rights in China Heats Up

A PRC dissident has been sentenced to 15 years for passing secrets to foreign journalists, among other things.

Fox Butterfield, of the Times, is likely to make him a human rights martyr, and sentencing may be a topic of a Times editorial.2 One question being raised is whether stiff sentences in China will lead to restrictions on computer sales to the PRC.

State will issue on an “if-asked” basis a statement decrying the stiff sentence. This is likely to elicit negative Chinese reaction, but it is probably better to go that way than to be accused of applying obvious dual standards. I will try to remain on top of this issue.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 9, China (PRC): 10/79–2/80. Confidential. Sent for information. A stamped notation indicates that Brzezinski saw the memorandum.
  2. Butterfield wrote two articles about Wei Jinsheng for The New York Times: the first, “4 Arrested in China at Democracy Wall,” on November 12, p. A7; the second, “China Dissident Likens Present to the Repressive Past,” on November 15, p. A22. There were no editorials in The New York Times about Wei during this period.