Hu Jintao At The White House
This post is a consolidation of three previous comments here. The occasion was the speeches given by US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the White House lawn.
(1) The American master of ceremony announced that the national anthems of the Republic of China and the United States of America will be played. This type of mistake is rarely ever seen because this is a huge insult. Hu was supposed to look grim.
(2) There were 16 errors in the simultaneous interpretation of Bush's speech, including a missing section that was filled in later. The interpreter took more time than Bush himself and every Chinese sentence contained grammatical errors and stuttering. According to an exclusive source to Bowen Press, the two sides should have provided their welcoming speeches to each other beforehand. The Chinese did that, but the Americans did not for unknown reasons. According to a veteran diplomat, even excusing the absence of preparation, the simultaneous interpretation was worse than sub-standard for this type of work.
(3) During the speech, there was a female protestor. She was able to yell aloud for two minutes and fifteen seconds without any secret service agent stopping her (see 6Park or YouTube for the video). This was a rare occurrence. When the police came to take her away, they did not depart through the rear (where there is a passageway for the secret service agents). Instead, she was taken away in front of the entire assembly, against White House and Secret Services regulations. These two aspects showed that the Americans may have deliberately planned this to tell the world that there is freedom of speech in America and to remind Hu Jintao about his problems inside China.
(4) After Hu Jintao finished his speech and was about to leave, Bush went above to touch him and steer him in the right direction. This is a minor detail, but it showed that the preparations for this visit had not been fully worked out. It also showed that the United States did not treat this visit as importantly as China did.
ETTV (via Yahoo! News Taiwan) noted two more major mistakes:
(5) There was supposed to be a 21 gun salute, but those in attendance said that they only heard 19 gunshots.
(6) When Bush met with Hu Jintao's wife whose name is Liu Rongqing, he addressed her as "Mrs. Liu."
Associated Press has this photo of VP Dick Cheney reading a book during the speeches. (Alternate version: Cheny was fast asleep)
(7) Vice President Dick Cheney and various members of the Bush administration, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, center, listen as President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao hold a press availability in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2006. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Postscript: Is the translated report above factually correct? Well, does it really matter if this is what the Chinese people are already reading? It would seem that Imagethief is referring to the same report in his blog post Q: What do my Chinese colleagues think of Bush + Hu?. So maybe Xinhua didn't report this episode, but this story seems to be zinging around the Internet and it will be the basis for forming opinion about what occurred.
The reminder here is that the Bush appearances are known to be extremely tightly controlled (as in, you can't wear t-shirts with incorrect words, or you have to write essays to explain why you want to attend, or you are not allowed to speak unless you are one of the pre-designated persons given a script). Therefore, anything unexpected is surprising and absolutely shocking.
Related link: Bloggertorial: Bush Team Deserves D for Diplomacy China Confidential.
Related link: Not a Good Day China Matters
Related link: Don't let the cowboy get away with this Non-violent Resistance (note: this is a Chinese journalist)
Related link: China and Its President Greeted by a Host of Indignities. Dana Milbank, Washington Post, April 21, 2006.
Chinese President Hu Jintao got almost everything he wanted out of yesterday's visit to the White House.
He got the 21-gun salute, the review of the troops and the Colonial fife-and-drum corps. He got the exchange of toasts and a meal of wild-caught Alaskan halibut with mushroom essence, $50 chardonnay and live bluegrass music. And he got an Oval Office photo op with President Bush, who nodded and smiled as if he understood Chinese while Hu spoke.
If only the White House hadn't given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta. Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu's speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"
Bush and Hu looked up, stunned. It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse. The rattled Chinese president haltingly attempted to continue his speech and television coverage went to split screen.
"You're okay," Bush gently reassured Hu.
But he wasn't okay, not really. The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the "national anthem of the Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.
Then there were the intentional slights. China wanted a formal state visit such as Jiang got, but the administration refused, calling it instead an "official" visit. Bush acquiesced to the 21-gun salute but insisted on a luncheon instead of a formal dinner, in the East Room instead of the State Dining Room. Even the visiting country's flags were missing from the lampposts near the White House.
But as protocol breaches go, it's hard to top the heckling of a foreign leader at the White House. Explaining the incident -- the first disruption at the executive mansion in recent memory -- White House and Secret Service officials said she was "a legitimate journalist" and that there was nothing suspicious in her background. In other words: Who knew?
Hu did. The Chinese had warned the White House to be careful about who was admitted to the ceremony. To no avail: They granted a one-day pass to Wang Wenyi of the Falun Gong publication Epoch Times. A quick Nexis search shows that in 2001, she slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting Jiang (she had been denied media credentials) and got into an argument with him. The 47-year-old pathologist is expected to be charged today with attempting to harass a foreign official.
(Associated Press, 2006) (Darrin Zammit Lupi, 2001)
Now you can do an analysis of what this White House show will accomplish, either for Wang Wenyi herself, or the newspaper (Epoch Times) which allegedly credentialed her, or her particular cause. A good starting point might be just what the Malta encounter five years ago accomplished up till today. Like ... how many of you knew about the Malta encounter?
So far, the huge fallout has been directed against the United States for which one is forced to choose between incompetence and complicity. From Hong Kong blogger Hemlock:
Why did the US Government give press accreditation to the Epoch Times, let alone Dr Wenyi Wang, to attend President Hu Jintao’s speech yesterday on the White House lawn? American officials must know that the newspaper is a Falun Gong front. They must know that Wang has a history of picketing consulates, asking anti-communist questions in press conferences and protesting against Beijing for harvesting organs from fellow disciples in prison camps and for canceling her passport. They must have known that she would take the priceless opportunity to go into hysterics during Hu’s proudest moment. They let her in deliberately.
The only alternative explanation is an unbelievable degree of negligence. And why not? Limp-wristed, namby-pamby State Department protocol experts wouldn’t let George W Bush shriek “Hu, your days are numbered!” to the Chinese leader’s face himself. So this was the next best thing. And who better to do it than one of the demented followers of Law Wheel Qigong? The Falun Gong and the CCP are, to use one of Li Hongzhi’s own phrases, the Two Cosmic Extremes. “Only by Rectifying Ourselves and Assimilating to Dafa Can We Better Assist Master’s Fa-Rectification and Save People.” “Accelerate and Improve Party Reconstruction According to the Demands of the Three Represents.” It is hard not to conclude that they deserve each other.
From The Swamp (Chicago Tribune):
The editor of a newspaper whose vocal reporter interrupted the ceremonial arrival of President Hu Jintao of China on the South Lawn of the White House this week with a protest about human rights abuses in China has apologized to Hu’s host, President Bush. Of course, Bush too had apologized to Hu for the extraordinary outburst from the camera platform on the White House grounds, normally insulated from any of the protests that take place almost daily on the sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Yet Stephen Gregory, editor of The Epoch Times, makes no apology for his continuing campaign against the alleged torture of members of Falun Gong, a banned religious group in China. In an attempt to spotlight abuses inside China, his newspaper is handed out regularly on the sidewalk in front of the White House, and while he may not condone the personal protest that his assigned “reporter,” New York pathologist Wenyi Wang, carried on to the heavily guarded White House grounds, he suggested today that “the world does need to understand what might have moved a respected medical profession such as Dr. Wang to take such unconventional actions.’’
“Dr. Wang attended this event on Epoch Times press credentials,’’ he said in a statement issued early today. “However, her actions… were her own. In protesting in this manner, she did not act on behalf of The Epoch Times. Moreover, she had not consulted any of her Epoch Times colleagues beforehand about her staging this protest,’’ the editor maintained. “If The Epoch Times had known of her intention to use this event to protest, we would have seen that her press credentials were withdrawn. The Epoch Times apologizes to President Bush and the White House for Dr. Wang’s actions.’’
A reader writes to tell me how wrong I was about the forced (and false) choice between incompetence and complicity. In between these two extremes, there exists indifference (see The Taxonomy of Indiifference). Yes, it could be that President Bush really didn't give a sh*t about any fallout because he is the President of the United States (POTUS) ...
(Postscript) More problems for President George W. Bush when Wang Wenyi was interviewed by Larry King on CNN (via Wenxue City).
Q: Why did you do this?
A: I want to let President Bush know about the seriousness of the problem.
Q: You think that President Bush does not know the serious of the problem?
A: Yes, that's it.
So if Bush does not know, he must be very insulated and uninformed; if Bush already knows, he must be callous.
Hong Kong Poll About White House Meeting (04/22/2006) Oriental Daily interviewed 349 Hong Kong adults by telephone and here are the survey results with respect to the series of incidents at the Bush-Hu speeches on the White House lawn.
Issue #1: The White House master of ceremony announced the playing of the national anthem of the Republic of China.
- 33% said that the American goverment deliberately set this up to insult China
- 21% said that the American government was of poor quality
- 23% said that it was an unintentional mistake
- 19% said that it could be either intentional or unintentional
Issue #2: When the female FLG member disrupted Hu Jintao's speech, she was allowed to go on for almost three minutes before the secret service agents removed her.
- 79% said that the American government should apologize
- 9% said that the American government should not apologize
Issue #3: How should China protest against what occurred?
- 43% said that China should demand an apology from the American government
- 22% said that China should lodge a diplomatic protest
- 6% said that China should cancel the recently signed purchase contracts
- 19% said that the United States does not need to apologize
Issue #4: Do you think that the United States is a trustworthy partner?
- 17% said that USA is a trustworthy partner
- 62% said that USA is not a trustworthy partner
Issue #5: Will this incident affect Sino-American relationships?
- 6% Serious influence
- 62% Mild influence
- 29% No influence
Here is a strange follow-up (and I have lost the links). When Wang Wenyi started yelling and attempted to unfurl a yellow FLG flag, a video-camera man of Asian descent to her left attempted to take the flag away and muffle her.
Who is that man? That has become a much more intriguing question now than what Wang might be saying. There are two versions. On one hand, the cameraman is alleged to have come from a mainland Chinese television channel. On the other hand, the cameraman is alleged to have come from New Tang TV (NDTV), a television channel that is believed to be connected to the FLG. The answer to this question will go a long way towards the future status of Epoch Times/NDTV. Whereas Epoch Times issued a statement to the effect that they were unaware what their credentialed reporter Wang Wenyi was up to, that would be really stretching the suspension of disbelief. Absent any supporting evidence, this would be a tremendous blow to the credibility (and future access to major events) of Epoch Times and all the other FLG-related media such as NDTV and Radio Sound of Hope (Question: What is the basis of my classification of connection to FLG? It is reducible to this single question: Does the media organization report on the Nine Criticisms and the 10 million Communist Party member resignations? I regard this as a total hoax and only FLG-related media organizations would propagandize on this. If you disagree with my statement, please give me your name (or any other name) and I will go to the Epoch Times website and resign from the Communist Party under that name.). But if a NDTV cameraman was actually trying to muffle Wang, then maybe the assertion could be true.
Now I don't know the organization of this cameraman. But here are the photographs of the person who is waiting to be identified:
Related Link: Wang Wenyi intends to sue unidentified CCTV cameraman
(Washington Post) White House Protester Could Avoid Charges in Deal With Prosecutors. By Eric M. Weiss. June 22, 2006.
The protester who disrupted a White House ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao in April will have criminal charges against her dismissed if she stays out of trouble for a year, according to a deal with prosecutors announced yesterday.
Wenyi Wang, 47, a follower of Falun Gong, a religious sect suppressed in China, was arrested by the Secret Service after she began yelling from a media platform during the April 20 White House event. The outburst interrupted Hu's remarks at the ceremony, attended by President Bush and other leaders, and created an embarrassing situation for the White House.
Wang has characterized her actions as an act of civil disobedience, not a crime.
Under the agreement, prosecutors will postpone action on the case until April, a year from the time of the incident. At that point, they will dismiss the charges if Wang has not committed any crimes, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. The deal does not have to be approved by a judge.
Wang was charged with willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
If she breaks the law before April, "Then we're back at square one, and we would have to go to trial," Phillips said.
The agreement offered to Wang is a standard way of resolving cases that involve minor crimes and first-time offenders, he said.
Her attorney did not return a phone call yesterday seeking comment.
Wang, a doctor who lives in New York, got on the White House lawn for the ceremony as a credentialed journalist for a newspaper associated with Falun Gong, a Buddhist-based spiritual movement with millions of members in China and elsewhere.
During the event, Wang unfurled a yellow protest banner and shouted at Hu, and then Bush, in Chinese and English. The Secret Service said that her comments included: "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out" and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime." She also exclaimed: "President Bush, stop him from killing! President Bush, stop him from persecuting Falun Gong!"
The White House had issued Wang a one-day media pass to cover the ceremony after she presented credentials as a reporter for Epoch Times. Many of the newspaper's staff members, like Wang, are Falun Gong practitioners, a newspaper spokeswoman said.
Chinese officials had warned the United States of the potential for protests during Hu's visit. And Wang had caused a commotion at least once before: She confronted former Chinese president Jiang Zemin in Malta nearly five years ago with complaints about the treatment of Falun Gong, according to media reports.
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy who did not want to be identified said, "Today's result is not acceptable to the Chinese side." He described Falun Gong as "an evil cult, anti-humankind and anti-society, and an anti-China political organization" and noted that Bush had apologized to Hu for the incident.