China Informed: a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

| Current edition | Previous edition | News Index | Contents |

Previous issue | Next issue

---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Sat, Nov 1, 1997 edition
Summit Coverage:
At Harvard Jiang expounds on history and answers questions about today

Also in this edition . . .

1: Jiang's visit to Independence Hall a 'hallow' effort
2: Jiang visits Wall Street and tours technology firms, while others protest against his government
3: DOD and PLA work to foster 'friendship'
4: Transcript of Jiang's speech and Q&A
5: US response to currency crisis might push Asean nations closer to China and Japan


Thursday: Jiang's visit to Independence Hall a 'hallow' effort
( China's Leader Visits Birthplace of U.S. Democracy ) Seth Faison, a New York Times's China correspondent following Jiang's trip, writes about the president's visit to the birthplace of America's democracy, Philadelphia. With noisy protestors in the front Jiang and his entourage entered Independence Hall through the rear, and a planned walk to the Liberty Bell was cancelled. Faison writes, "Yet Jiang did not seem to pretend that coming here might somehow enhance his credentials as a supporter of democratic political principles. Nor did he try to use any real historical lessons about democracy to suit his own purposes. Jiang did not even speak about democracy or human rights, or quote Jefferson as he has before, making the symbolism of his visit arguably more hollow than cynical."

In Thursday's edition we published a first-hand retelling of Jiang's visit to Drexel University. Today we learn about Jiang's visit to an old teacher, Dr. Yu Ku, 95, who came to the States in 1952. In an example of Confucian propriety Jiang insisted on meeting his old teacher who in an interview with Faison told him of his 1986 visit with Jiang, then mayor of Shanghai.

    "He said, 'You were my old teacher,"' Ku recalled fondly in an interview.

    Over the years, Ku sometimes wrote to Jiang on matters of politics and international affairs. Jiang never wrote back, "because of security reasons," Ku said. But in 1990, shortly after he wrote to Jiang suggesting that Beijing allow the dissident Fang Lizhi to leave the country, Ku received a call one day in his Philadelphia home.

    It was Jiang.

    "He said two words: 'Watch television.' " Ku did, and upon turning his television on to CNN, saw that Fang was being released.

(Note: the New York Times on-line edition is free, but requires that users register a name and password, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the Times registration page.)

Friday: Jiang visits Wall Street and tours technology firms, while others protest against his government
( Mao's Heir Finds Path: Wall Street ) Jiang Zemin visited Wall Street yesterday, clanging the opening bell and meeting with executives from major American technology companies. As the New York Times explains, the trip exemplifies the spread of opinions in the US concerning China and Jiang's visit. Outside on the street protestors stood a block away, behind a police barricade, admonishing China's leader for his government's policies in Tibet. But in the corporate offices and clean rooms of AT&T, IBM and others the focus was on trade, money and building long-lasting relationships with the world's most populous nation. Louis Gerstner, IBM's chairman and chief executive, greeted Jiang with some practiced Chinese, reports John Kifner: "Lao pengyou, ni hao" (Hello, old friend).

( Tibetans and Christians Speak Out Against China ) Atop the stock exchange entrance the PRC's flag flew next the Stars and Stripes, and for one person interviewed by the Times's Christopher Wren the site was "chilling." Hundreds of demonstrators turned out, including Chinese and Tibetan immigrants and exiles. A discussion between the protestors and a passing Chinese man on his way to catch a glimpse of Jiang brought to the fore the different view points. For many Chinese who subscribe to the state's line, Tibet has not only been an indispensable piece of China for centuries. The PLA liberated it from feudal slavery of the Buddhist theocracy, and over the decades China has made tremendous progress there. The young man said limited independence might be an option for Tibet, but no more. Protestors well versed in what they call the "lies" promoted by the PRC dismissed such arguments, noting the lack of freedom for Tibetans who cannot even hang a picture of the Dalai Lama in their house. For one student his participation was explained as this: "As an American, I feel it's our responsibility to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves."

See also New York Times: ( Jiang Begins Two-Day Visit to New York )

(Note: the New York Times on-line edition is free, but requires that users register a name and password, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the Times registration page.)


  • ( China's Leader Is Rebuked by U.S. Legislators on Human Rights ) There's another story on Jiang's visit to Capital Hill on Thursday. Law makers rebuked the president for human rights problems, lack of religious freedom, abortions, and arms proliferation. For his part Jiang wanted to assure his hosts that China would "expand democracy, improve the legal system, run the country according to law and build a socialist market economy." Such talk was quickly dismissed by incredulous members of Congress focused on on-going problems, not future promises.

  • ( At Home, Rosy News for Jiang's Trip ) Also as an update to our Thursday edition, the New York Times is running an article on how news media in China portray the president's trip, noting how Xinhua News Agency coordinates the coverage and presentation in local media. Top officials are the ones who set the story, sanitizing it of all the gory details.

    (Note: the New York Times on-line edition is free, but requires that users register a name and password, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the Times registration page.)

    Military: DOD and PLA work to foster 'friendship'
    ( International - Rank-and-File Aim at Friendship ) One agreement coming out the summit will step-up contacts between the US military and PLA, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The efforts are part of a broader agenda to promote understanding, transparency and prevent accidents. After the Taiwan elections in 1996, when the US dispatched an aircraft carrier and support ships to the Taiwan straits, relations have been strained. . . .

    Analysis: ( Analysis: In Washington, China's Payoff Is New Respect, New Status ) Steven Erlanger compares the summit and state visit to US-Soviet relations, saying those whole affair and its reception in America resembled Nikita Khrushchev's visit here in 1959. . . .


    ( China Visit )

    President Jiang Zemin visited Harvard today where he gave a speech entitled Enhance Mutual Understanding and Build Stronger Ties of Friendship and Cooperation. It is an interesting look into the scientific, cultural and philosophical traditions of China, as seen by a leader of China. It also elucidated the main tenants of China's foreign policy of 'peaceful coexistence,' as it also attempted to

    delineate the concepts of 'harmony' and rationalism in Chinese history. We'll have more to say about this tomorrow. In the mean time, be sure to read the transcript on Harvard's web site. Below is the transcript from the Question-and-Answer session following the speech.

    ( China Visit ) Question #1: Submitted by the Joint Committee for Protesting Jiang Zemin's visit to Harvard:

    Q: "Jiang Zemin asked the West not to engage in confrontation but dialogue. However, why does he refuse dialogue with his own people? Why did the Chinese government order tanks in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, and confront the Chinese people?"

    A: "In China there are various channels for us to learn about people's views. For instance, when I was the mayor of Shanghai, I got frequent contact with the people's deputies there, and after I went to work with the Party's Central Committee, I have been to almost all the thirty provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions of China.

    "China is a large country, with different levels of development in different parts of the country, and therefore, in some places in China I've been there even more than three times. I've been to many grassroots units in China's countryside, in the cities, and in the factories, and have had extensive contacts with people from different walks of life, and therefore, the people are very satisfied with achievements we have scored under the reform and opening-up program of China, and the policy of the government is to serve the people. Therefore, we have to reflect the people's requests and do everything that will meet the people's requests. And also, as a result of our effort along that line, we have enjoyed the support from our people. It goes without saying that, naturally, we may have shortcomings and even make some mistakes in our work. However, we have been working on a constant basis to further improve our work."

    Question #2: Submitted by student Eric Mortensen, regarding Tibet.

    Q: "You said before you would not meet with the Dalai Lama if independence was addressed. Given that the Dalai Lama has now said he's willing to meet you without discussing independence, why, therefore, do you still refuse to meet with him?"

    A: "Our policy toward the fourteenth Dalai Lama is a very clear-cut one, and you also referred to part of it in raising your question. That is, he must recognize publicly that Tibet is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China; that he must state publicly to give up Tibet independence, and that he must stop all activities aimed at splitting the motherland. However, much to my regret, up until this date, the fourteenth Dalai Lama has not stopped his separatist activities."

    Fairbank Center Director Ezra Vogel: "President Jiang Zemin has also said that, although this has been unannounced, he is willing to take a question from the audience. This is completely unrehearsed, and I hope that some of you will think of a question. Can I call upon somebody in the audience here who would like to raise a question? President Jiang Zemin has said that he would like to hear, first of all, from an American, and so--(audience unrest is audible) This is for an American audience--Yes, this woman right here. This woman -- I did not recognize you, would you please sit down. I did not recognize you; I recognized this lady here. Well, I -- OK, please go ahead."

    Question #3: (In substance, this question, called out by a woman at the back of the hall, pertains to President Jiang Zemin's reaction to the protest occurring outside the hall. Not all of the questioner's words were able to be heard by the transcriber.)

    A: (Audience responds with laughter and applause to President Jiang Zemin's spoken response, and then the English translation is heard) "I do have my understanding about the -- I do have my understanding about the general concept of democracy. However, during my current trip to the United States, starting from Hawaii, I felt more specific understanding of the American democracy, more specific than I learned from books. (More laughter and applause from the audience greet both this response and the following remarks)

    "Although I am already 71 years old, my ears still work very well, so when I was delivering my speech, I did hear the sound from the loudspeakers outside. However, I believe the only approach for me is to speak even louder than it."

    PROFESSOR VOGEL: "When Ambassador Sasser was on the way, he said to me that just before arriving at Harvard, President Jiang confessed to him that he felt like he was coming to a big examination at Harvard. I think we can say that he happily passed his examination, and we appreciate very much his willingness to come to Harvard. We see this as one step in continued dialogue which we hope will go on for many, many years, and forever."

    And finally . . . ( The Harvard Crimson Online: News ) Emily Wong of the Harvard Crimson reports on the daunting arrangements to accommodate the media during Jiang's visit to the prestigious school today.


    Southeast Asia: US response to currency crisis might push Asean nations closer to China and Japan
    ( Pacific Divide ) In the November 6 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review Bangkok correspondent Michael Vatikiotis writes about the US's muted response to currency crises in Asia, saying the US's response might drive many nations closer to China and Japan. Apparently it is popular belief among many people in the region that the United States orchestrated the market downfalls. Through the IMF the US has in fact injected considerable money into the region, especially Indonesia. But the aid comes with stipulations for further economic reforms to put their fiscal houses in order. The US government seems to have a hard time expressing itself in an entirely meaningful and palatable way. And Vatikiotis says China and Japan are much better versed and comfortable with the symbolic protocol for conducting diplomacy.

      "America's inability to communicate in Southeast Asia may also be helping Asean and China forge a closer relationship--despite mistrust over Beijing's intentions in the South China Sea. Sino-Asean ties have been nurtured by the kinds of symbolic gestures Washington is not very good at making. When Chinese Premier Li Peng went to Malaysia in September, he pledged support for Asean currencies and attacked currency speculators."

    Readers might be interested in reading the entire article.

    (Note: the Far Eastern Economic Review on-line service is free, but requires that users register with them and login, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the FEER registration page.)

    See also ( International - Asia Rebuts West's Idea Of Reform ) In Jakarta today efforts to formulate an IMF bailout package, which cuts at the very basis of Suharto's system of patronage, are meeting resistance from Indonesia's negotiators.

    Previous issue | Next issue

    China Informed

    a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong
    ©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day
    China Informed is seeking articles for publication. Write to for more information.