Saturday, April 22, 2006

Bloglines - Hu's Heckler: Online fallout

Bloglines user PeterDawson ( has sent this item to you, with the following personal message:

When I get home. I must watch the video. Rebecca alwasy has some insight on the issues with china and the freedom of speech and democracy. I wonder how come she is not been deemed as 'non welcome' status in china ? What do they call it "perso non grata" status ??

Musings, links, and occasional rants by Rebecca MacKinnon, a recovering TV reporter-turned-blogger.

Hu's Heckler: Online fallout

By Rebecca MacKinnon on Human Rights

Thanks to Jeremy Goldkorn for pointing out that somebody has uploaded the CNN video of Chinese President Hu Jintao being heckled by a FLG practitioner during his speech at the White House on Thursday. Chinese censors may have blacked out the live TV signal and all CNN replays, but it's all over the internet. And Chinese chatrooms are re-posting and analyzing the photos from the Great White House Lawn Debacle. This one (via Imagethief) has a shot of Mrs. Hu, scowling next to a smiling Laura Bush.

Wwy2001 Meanwhile Roland Soong over at ESWN digs up a rather fascinating revelation: according to photos on this website belonging to photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, Dr. Wang Wenyi - Thursday's heckler who was accredited into the official press coverage pool via the FLG-run publication Epoch Times - also managed to break through the security detail and confronted former President Jiang Zemin when he was on a trip to Malta in 2001. I have e-mailed the photographer asking him to confirm the authenticity of this photo and describe what happened in detail. When he gets back to me I'll update this post.

Chinese netizens were already speculating that the White House or somebody in the U.S. government had allowed her into the press stand on purpose, given how long it took before she was led away. (Roland quotes more such speculation here.) Then there's the added issuse that even many Chinese who dislike their regime equally dislike FLG. For a taste of those sentiments check out Bingfeng here and here. I have a lot of Chinese friends who share similar views - people who also have a habit of saying very unflattering things in private about various Chinese leaders and government departments.

But what has really upset a lot of Chinese people was Bush's rude and very public yank on Hu's sleeve. See Imagethief's post about the reaction of his Chinese co-workers. Lead sentence: "They think Bush is a protocol-impaired dweeb."

The saddest thing about Thursday's White House Lawn Diplo-Debacle is that many Chinese who generally dislike the Chinese Communist Party have now turned against the U.S. government. Roland cites a Hong Kong newspaper poll with the following results:

Issue: The White House master of ceremony announced the playing of the national anthem of the Republic of China.
    - 33% said that the American goverment deliberate set this up to insult China
    - 21% said that the American government was of poor quality
    - 23% said that it was an unintentional mistake
Issue: 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: How should China protest against what occurred?
    - 43% said China should demand an apology from the American government
    - 22% said China should lodge a diplomatic protest
    -   6% said China should cancel the recently signed purchase contracts

Issue: Do you think that the United States is a trustworthy partner?
    - 17% said USA is a trustworthy partner
    - 62% said USA is not a trustworthy partner

Youch. And this is from people in relatively Westernized Hong Kong.

For more news and blogger coverage from Reuters and Global Voices Online, click here:

Reuters - U.S. - China Relations

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