Sticks & Stones

The President of China, Hu Jintao, visited the White House recently.

Wenyi Wang (surname last) interrupted his speech on the lawn by shouting him down. She yelled, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

As the saying goes, sticks and stones may break one's bones, but words are much worse and have devestating effects on the integrity of entire nation states. So the United States Secret Service had to get her out of there, but more importantly had to cover her mouth.

The Secret Service didn't have any tanks on hand to quell her.

President Hu had received a 21-gun salute, and clapped for himself, but the Washington Post says, "he was less enthusiastic about the long list of demands Bush made in his welcome speech: expand Chinese consumption of U.S. goods, enforce intellectual property rights, and allow freedom to assemble, speak, and worship." President Bush, for his part, didn't really demand any of those things. He really just mentioned them, as things. He let the Secret Service demonstrate the depth of his commitment.

Wenyi Wang works as a journalist for a Falun Gong publication. Red China doesn't like Falun Gong. Here's a picture of a young Falung Gong practitioner. That's what the Chinese government is up against. That's what has prompted the Chinese government to put its foot down, that's what they want to stamp out.

They outlawed it 6 years ago. Illegal. And blocked online information about it, and so on. And the "killing" that Wenyi referred to is all the people who have died in police custody after being arrested for practicing Falun Gong, and the Chinese government's more general tendancy to kill people who disagree with its policies or petition it for the redress of grievances.

She's already been charged in federal court with intimidating the chief executive of the most populous nation on earth. In America that offense carries a punishment of 6 months in prison or $5,000.

Here's another example of intimidation, but in China in 1989. You can see that the man intimidates the tanks freely, because he's outside the jurisdiction of American law, and the drivers of the tanks were domestic nationals.

And now in 2006 you can feel a little short-changed in how softly, how lightly and mushily US President Bush pressed the issue of human rights on Chinese President Hu. Do tanks in China today have any greater legal protection for their right to public assembly than they did in 1989? The answer is no.