Heckler Shouts Down Chinese President at White House

A woman with a Fulan Gong banner shouted, in Chinese, “President Hu, your days are numbered” as the Chinese leader was being welcomed by President Bush at the White House. Drudge had the initial report.

Interestingly, AP has the event as a throw-in in the last paragraph:

A single woman on the camera stand interrupted the welcoming ceremony, shouting in English, “President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong!” She also shouted in Chinese, “President Hu, your days are numbered,” according to a translation by reporters on the scene. She was forcibly removed from the South Lawn by uniformed Secret Service personnel.

Michelle Malkin has the video.

While I share the woman’s contempt for the Communist Chinese regime, I also think there is a time and a place for such displays. When an invited guest at the White House for an official diplomatic event is surely not one of them. It denies others their right to enjoy the dignity of the occasion.

Those who come to public speeches and disrupt them, regardless of their cause, are violating the most basic premises of free speech. The audience has come to see the featured speakers, not them.

Further, President Bush himself spoke out about China’s human rights abuses in his speech:

As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements. I’ll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce — and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.

The United States will also be candid about our policy toward Taiwan. The United States maintains our one China policy based on the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side, and we urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts. And we believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully.

The United States and China will continue to build on our common interests; we will address our differences in a spirit of mutual respect. We have made progress in building a relationship that is candid and cooperative — and President Hu’s visit will further that progress.

The fact of the matter, though, is that China is a major regional power and a nuclear one at that. Through the use of economic levers, we can encourage change in their policies. We have done so, although maddeningly slowly. But change will not come through uncivil displays.

Further, as Bush and Hu noted in the speech, our relationship has always been very complicated. China remains, as candidate Bush described him them in 2000, a “strategic competitor” rather than an enemy of the United States. Their interests and ours often diverge, to be sure. But they have converged on North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere.

Others commenting:

    Kathryn Jean Lopez notes Bush’s remarks, too, and links to several good stories about China’s human rights issues, including the Falun Gong mess.

    Dan Riehl disagrees with my take, noting, “That unintelligble, crazy-sounding to me voice speaking out alone in a language I couldn’t understand touched me far more than the gathered numbers of any other protest I’ve ever seen or heard. Quite an incredible contrast with the immigration crowd, I’d say.”

    Pieter Dorsman: “No free markets can exist in any successful manner for long without a free flow of information and the rule of law. That truth will eventually catch up with Hu, but it will not be until China’s economic engine runs out of steam that he will be forced to consider it.”

    Gateway Pundit has a roundup of Chinese attrocities, including allegations of illegal organ sales.

    Steve Benen and Steve Clemons don’t see much difference between Bush and Hu, at least when it comes to accepting criticism.

    Bill Nienhuis thinks it outrageous that we would welcome Hu in this country at all.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steven Plunk says:

    Time, place, and manner. Don’t people get it? A guest must be treated as we would wish our leaders to be treated in China.

    Regardless, China must be engaged to some degree and having the president of China here goes a long way to establishing rapport. Seems like a good thing to me.

  2. Roger says:

    What happened to freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest? Foreign leaders who come here should understand our culture. Besides, Bush gets booed everywhere he goes inside or outside of our country. Fair is fair.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Roger,

    I think you are remembering America before Bush…

  4. LJD says:

    Oh, o.k. So now we expect other countries to honor OUR traditions? I thought the lefties had it the other way around.

    The irony you fail to realize about this incident is that this stupid protester’s outburst probably set back the very cause she was screaming about. Why does changing something you dislike always come to making an embarassment of yourselves?

    Really, do you think this incident moved China any closer to reaching this woman’s goals?

  5. Todd says:

    LJD,

    Yes, sometimes you do have to stand up and say “This is Bull $%#@ and it’s wrong” Just like John Kamm did as an American businessman in China.

    href=”http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5352524″

  6. Learn why this is happening. Learn the truth, wake up America, it is time.

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