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Six thousand demonstrators are expected to descend on Harvard for Chinese President Jiang Zemin's speech on Saturday, but not everyone is ready to condemn the leader of the world's most populous nation.
And though finding people who unilaterally support Jiang and the Chinese government may be difficult, many members of the Chinese Students Association (CSA) are willing to give him a chance.
"I for one, want to hear President Jiang's side of the tale before I crucify him like everyone else," wrote CSA President Andrew G.W. Chung '99 in a recent e-mail.
In an interview, Chung says that he does not have a firm opinion about Jiang. He added that his views are not the "official position" of the CSA.
Chung says he supports, "objectivity, looking at the situation with an objective viewpoint and not being so quick to jump on the human rights bandwagon."
Chung's mass e-mail to the CSA received about 70 replies within 24 hours.
According to Chung, most of the responses stated that the Undergraduate Council should not support a resolution proposed last Sunday to denounce Jiang.
"The initial resolution perpetuates the myth of China as an evil empire that has been perpetuated in the media," he says.
While he says he is not averse to protesters who have knowledge of the situation, Chung says he does object to the group's protesting who have no prior knowledge of the China situation.
"I think people who know about the situation deserve to voice their opinions," he says. "[But] I think a lot of people trying to get involved, be it organizations or media, shouldn't jump in without a background."
Chung says he found the version of the council resolution that passed to be more fair but cited the clause that condemned China's "totalitarian government" as factually incorrect.
Sheree S. Chiou '00, a CSA member and Taiwanese native, also says she was concerned with the council resolution regarding the Jiang visit.
"I think that special interest groups have every right to protest, but the U.C. is a general interest group not a special interest group," she says.
Chiou, who is an international student, says that she believes it is harder for citizens of a country to be quick to condemn that country.
Noah R. Freeman '98, vice-chair of the council's student affairs committee and an author of the resolution, says it "supports all responses to President Jiang's visit," not only the protests.
"People confused being anti-human rights abuses and being anti-Chinese," he says. "People misunderstood our intentions and the contents of our bills."
But Chung maintains a different stance.
"I don't condone everything the Chinese government does, but I don't know," he says. "You really have to be objective in looking at the situation. China is a totally different animal from America."
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