Jiang's White House visit draws fire at 'stateless' dinner

By Tom Carter and Walden Siew

Down on the summit: A crowd chants and waves signs in Lafayette Park yesterday to protest rights abuses in China. The rally, organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, coincided with the visit of China's president.

October 30, 1997

In a parody of last night's state dinner for Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Hollywood celebrities I joined politicians and human rights activists across the street from the White House at a "stateless" dinner to remind the world of human rights abuses under China's autocratic regime.

Like the lamb kabob and grilled eggplant on the menu, China's human rights record and Mr. Jiang were skewered and roasted by politicians and celebrities alike.

"I want to remind the president that when he sits down with the president of China, he is sitting with a man whose government routinely tortures men, women and children," said Dr. Allen Keller, director of a program at Bellevue Hospital in New York for survivors of torture and author of a study on Tibetan torture victims.

Actor Richard Gere, the host of the dinner for about 250 and a longtime Tibet activist, said in opening remarks, "I want to dedicate this evening to all the people who are not here and have no representation: the 1.2 billion Chinese, and for the 6 million Tibetans who have no representation."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said President Clinton "accused President Bush of coddling dictators. Now he's flacking for them."

Others at the protest banquet included Democratic Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Paul Wellstone of Minnestoa and Republican Reps. Matt Salomon of Arizona and Chris Smith of New Jersey.

The dinner closed out a day of demonstrations across the city.

Supporters for an independent Taiwan gathered at the Washington Monument in the morning, shouting slogans such as "One Taiwan! One China! ' later joining Tibetan activists chanting "Free Tibet!"

After official ceremonies at the White House, leaders from across the political spectrum united for a "Let Freedom Ring" rally at Lafayette Park.


"They say this is an unusual coalition ' said Gary L. Bauer, president of the conservative Family Research Council. "But this is better than the other unusual coalition"—the meeting, he said, between "the man from Hope, Arkansas" and the "butcher of Beijing."

Mr. Bauer praised the Chinese students who stood up to China's Communist regime in 1989 at Tiananmen Square.

"For this affront to tyranny, hundreds were killed ' he said. "Our foreign policy must stand on the values those students embraced."

Mr. Bauer also condemned China's repression of religious freedom and its policy of forcible abortion and sterilization of women.

At the rally, 7-foot-tall papiermache puppets of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Jiang danced in the crowd, grabbing for a carrot and paper money tied to a stick.

Protesters banged on a drum and listened to speeches while two native Tibetans blew on 6-foot-long "religious trumpets" to "drive away the evil spirits ' said Pema Thonden, 54, a Tibet native who lives in New York.

"I think sometimes Chinese politicians think [human rights] is a side issue ' Bette Bao Lord, a writer and wife of the former U.S. ambassador to China, said before her speech to the crowd. "It is not a side issue. It is something that speaks to the heart of all Americans."

Metropolitan and U.S. Park Police reported no serious incidents and no arrests related to yesterday's many demonstrations.

"So far it's all been quiet ' a shift supervisor said last night. "Just a lot of noise."

And the "noise" was created by protectors from around the world.

"We have our democratic struggle in Burma," said Rockville resident Ohmar Khin, 30, a staffer for the advocacy group Refugees International. "We want to show our support for all our neighboring countries struggling for democracy and human rights."

At the east side of the Capitol, about 30 supporters of Eastern Turkistan held protests, while in the afternoon Taiwan activists chanted at the west side of the Capitol as members of Congress gave short speeches of support.

Tibetan monk Pema Dorje, 45, from New York, sat on the grass at Lafayette Park holding a Tibetan flag and a "Save Tibet" sign. Before the Communists took over, Tibet and the Chinese government had good relations, he said.

He said all the demonstrations sought one goal: "We want to live peacefully."

In the late afternoon, about 100 Taiwanese-Americans got off tour buses at the Chinese Embassy on Connecticut Avenue to protest the Chinese intervention in Taiwan.

At one point in the two-hour protest, the crowd broke into song.

"They're singing 'The Taiwanese Spirit " said Echo Lin, director of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.

"We are very determined to overcome all the obstacles. We'll keep going forward until we achieve our goal," she said, translating the protest song.

Larry Chen, 49, rode with other Taiwanese-Americans from Marlboro, N.J. to voice his anger.

"The island people would like to have their sovereignty to be a democratic and free country," he said while holding a yellow and red sign that said "Stop Chinese Aggression." "We are not afraid of them. It is the Chinese government that is afraid of us. They are note used to free demonstrations."

Gerald Mizejewski contributed to this report.

Black and white photos were omitted for sizing down the article.

Flyer distributed at Lafayette Park

Compliments of Proposition One Committee