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10/27/97 Protests to greet visit by Chinese leader to U.S.

WASHINGTON (BP)–Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s week-long visit to the United States will be marked by a series of protests of his regime’s policies and of the Clinton administration’s commitment to cooperate with the world’s largest totalitarian state.
Zemin, who arrived in Hawaii Oct. 26, will meet with President Clinton and congressional leaders in the midst of visits to such sites of America’s battle for freedom as Williamsburg, Va., and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. His itinerary also includes visits to New York and Boston, as well as a speech at Harvard University.
Critics of the Chinese government and of U.S. policy toward the communist giant have scheduled demonstrations outside the White House to coincide with the first state visit to the country by a Chinese leader since that government’s 1989 massacre of dissenters at Tiananmen Square. Protesters also are expected to greet Jiang at other stops.
Clinton, meanwhile, delivered a defense Oct. 24 of his administration’s “constructive engagement” approach to relations with China. While acknowledging the United States should not ignore Chinese abuses of human rights and religious freedom, the president said a cooperative relationship with the world’s most populous country serves America’s interests, including those in global peace and trade.
“Isolation of China is unworkable, counterproductive and potentially dangerous,” Clinton said. “Military, political and economic measures to do such a thing would find little support among our allies around the world and, more importantly, even among Chinese themselves working for greater liberty.”
Opponents of the Clinton policy inside and outside Congress plan to demonstrate their opposition to such an approach while Jiang is in the country. They cite China’s human rights abuses, including the persecution of Christians and other religious adherents, the imprisonment of dissidents, its coercive one-child family policy and the reported execution of prisoners in order to sell their organs for transplant.
Rep. Christopher Smith, R.-N.J., has scheduled a hearing Oct. 28 in a House of Representatives subcommittee on the White House’s China policy. After the visit, the House is expected to consider legislation that targets China, including a ban on visas to leaders involved in religious persecution.
This summer, the House failed in a 259-173 vote to oppose most-favored-nation trade status for China. The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a number of other Christian groups opposed MFN, while evangelist Billy Graham and some evangelical organizations favored MFN for China.
A series of protests in Washington began Oct. 26, when Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and Christian Defense Coalition director Pat Mahoney led a prayer vigil outside the White House. Terry and Mahoney were among those arrested for refusing to leave the sidewalk in front of the White House.
“When the red carpet is being rolled out, let’s remember that the red carpet is stained with blood,” Mahoney said of Jiang’s visit, according to The Washington Times.
“This is unthinkable. Would we do it for Castro? Would we do it for Saddam Hussein? How can we do it for a man whose government brutalizes its own people?”
The Catholic Alliance, formerly a division of Christian Coalition, is sponsoring a protest Oct. 27 on the Ellipse, which is outside the south lawn of the White House. Another demonstration is planned for Oct. 29, the day Jiang meets with Clinton, in Lafayette Park, on the north side of the White House.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Oct. 26, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, according to The Times, Jiang “will not have a totally fuzzy time at these places. I think that it is important for him, actually, to see where our liberty came from.”