The Falun Gong protestor

Both the left and right sides of the blogosphere are buzzing about yesterday’s heckling of Hu on the White House lawn by a FLG reporter from Epoch Times. I watched the incident on CNN last night and was amazed the determined lady was able to pull it off and cause so much distraction.

I’m not making a big deal out of this because I see it as rather silly, and I can’t blame the Secret Service for carting her away. That would have happened under any administration.

I admire this woman’s courage though I don’t in any way admire her organization. I don’t see anything wrong with the way she was handled, though there’s something definitely wrong with the screening process that let her get so close to Hu in the first place. To applaud her as a hero seems a bit much to me.

[Update, to avoid misunderstandings: I have defended the FLG many times on this blog – or at least their right to exist without persecution – despite my being less than enamored of their methodology; after all, they have no blood on their hands and are undoubtedly undeserving of the brutality they’ve suffered. This kind of act, in my eyes, does little for their cause, however, and adds to the perception of their being rather fanatical, out-of-control cultists.]

Update: A fascinating op-ed on Hu’s visit, which appeared to be one indignity after the other. And it appears Bush had been warned in advance about potential disrupters.

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.

Could this whole thing really have been choreographed by Bush? Check the comments to this post for some interesting perspective.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

“though there’s something definitely wrong with the screening process that let her get so close to Hu in the first place.”

Honi soit qui mal y pense.

April 21, 2006 @ 4:02 am | Comment

From the write ups of the big day it seems likely that the protestor could have been placed there on purpose.

I think Hu was generally shafted by the Prez, and as such responded by visiting Gates and similar first…and then the Prez, where he stated more or less that we (China) are not to blame for your economic problems, and perhaps mentioned how much US Debt China owns and then told the Prez to shut up and listen.

Hu was magic!

April 21, 2006 @ 4:35 am | Comment

That would certainly put an odd twist on an already odd story. Anyone see any stories about her being a plant? I certainly wouldn’t put it past Bush.

April 21, 2006 @ 5:06 am | Comment

You have to read between the lines, “not happened in a long time”, “bush teams strict control of events”, “that this same person did the same thing 5 years ago”. All from the WPost.

What is the press talking about – the protestor.

What is the press not (really) talking about – the inability of Bush to gain any positive outcome from the meeting, at all.

Since Hu does not need, or want, to be lectured by Bush I think the protestor was the only way that Bush could gain from the meeting – an indirect signal to Hu that he did not appreciate being third on Hu’s list AND that the US is not happy about China’s attitude to various things.

April 21, 2006 @ 5:53 am | Comment

Tim, you are one smart guy. Thanks; let’s see if more is reported about this. If it was a set-up, someone might spill the beans.

April 21, 2006 @ 5:58 am | Comment

You will be thrown out of a shopping mall in the US within seconds if you wear a “Stop the War” T-Shirt. But if you want to heckle the leader of America’s new rival power on the grounds of the White House, we’ll give you a couple of minutes – just to make a point. Every single thing Bush does is choreographed to the nearest inch. The idea that a protestor could mouth off against Hu for a couple of minutes without official snaction is just straining credibility. You might not agree, but that’s what a billion plus Chinese will already be thinking. Look how badly they reacted to the “accidental” bombing of the Belgrade Embassy.

April 21, 2006 @ 6:41 am | Comment


No, you will not be thrown out of a shopping mall in the US within seconds if you wear a “stop the war” T-shirt. Can I tell you that I own and frequently wear anti-war shirts? That one of my good friends is a founder of Code Pink? (the women’s peace group)? Believe me, people wear anti-war T-shirts in public all the time.

Now, where you WILL get thrown out for wearing one is a Bush “town-hall” – e.g., carefully screened propaganda event designed to emulate an actual give-and-take with the American people. There are other situations too where you will get some undeserved (and un-Constitutional) heat for wearing such a shirt. But on a daily basis? In a mall? Nope. At least not where I live!

As to the matter at hand, my jaw is on the ground over the whole incident. It seems to me that the Bush White House had nothing to gain by deliberately allowing such a demonstration, but maybe I’m wrong. If they didn’t know about it, once again, it proves an example of their staggering ineptitude. And as I commented earlier, I suppose if a male prostitute can repeatedly get a White House press pass, then it shouldn’t surprise us that an ET “reporter” can as well.

2009 can’t come soon enough.

April 21, 2006 @ 10:31 am | Comment

The Bush White House is staggeringly inept, but planting disruptors at their photo-ops is absolutely contrary to their standard operating procedure.

April 21, 2006 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

If my memory serves me correctly, during the 2004 compaign, some guy in a cheney rally exposed a kerry shirt (or cap), he was promptly beat up by the people next to him and thrown out of the rally.

the stranger thing was, he was actually a bush supporter.

it was reported in the media but i can’t find the link now.

i am pretty sure they didn’t wait for 3 minutes.

the whole heckler thing is just fishy.

April 21, 2006 @ 11:16 pm | Comment

also to quote a James Bond movie:

“one is accident, twice is coincident, third time? enemy action”

April 21, 2006 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

Bing, there have definitely been all kinds of incidents at Bush/Cheney rallies.

I just think the Falun Gong protester makes Bush look inept, not in control of the situation.

But you know, I wouldn’t put much past them.

April 21, 2006 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

Sometimes a cigar is just as a cigar, and sometimes the apparent stupidity of the Bush White House is just stupidity.

April 22, 2006 @ 1:12 am | Comment

Ivan, more often than not!

April 22, 2006 @ 1:26 am | Comment

One thing about this FLG protestor episode really puzzles me. My understanding is that: every time there is a function or reception that involves an important delegate from the PRC, the organizer will have to submit names of those who are attending to the Chinese Embassy for security check. No invitation or pass will be issued unless it is approved by the Chinese Embassy. So I’m not convinced that the CIA or the Bush Administration is the only one who should be made responsible for this security breach (unless the practice in the US is different from the practice here in Australia). If this incident is really staged by the CIA or by Bush, then I have to say that it is indeed a very bad move. To make a Chinese political leader lose face in public is not only stupid, it is very dangerous too. Incidents like this will have the potential of ruining whatever goodwill that’s been previously established. I can’t see how this incident can benefit the US or the Bush Administration.

April 22, 2006 @ 3:18 am | Comment

There’s no way this particular incident (or announcing the wrong name for the PRC) was done purposely by the Bush Administration. It simply makes them, and Bush himself appear too much the fool for it to make sense. If either incident was intentional, it was likely the work of mid to high level careerists in the State Department, the CIA or some other branch that now has an ax to grind over both Bush and the PRC… But most likely, it’s just another example of this administration coming apart at the seams. Letting a protester that close sends signals to the wrong people that Bush’s personal security is lax.

April 22, 2006 @ 7:24 am | Comment

I would say that the thing was intentional, but not the fault of Bush. Did you see how pissed he was? He looked more pissed than when he recieved word about 9/11 in that Florida classroom. Bush was probably thinking “oh shit, no more concessions on trade, NKorea, or Iran this afternoon… shit, no more political capital… shit, shit, shit…”
IMO it’s probably what infohazard said–the state dept. or the cia or some other dude allowed her in. which is a pity, because if their purpose is to advance american interests diplomatically–they’ve just totally violated their own purpose. And should be fired.

April 22, 2006 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

I think the whole day is further evidence that the Bush Administration is falling apart at the seams. Their approval rating is down to 33% – and that figure comes from Fox News.

Worst. President. Ever.

April 22, 2006 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

that chines US citizen woman protestor now faces 6 months in prison and 5000dollar fine.

congradulations america, you are now china.

April 23, 2006 @ 7:28 am | Comment

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