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Opponents, Supporters Rally in PA

By Joshua L. Kwan, SPECIAL TO THE CRIMSON

PHILADELPHIA--Crowds of protesters voicing operation to Chinese President Jiang Zenin were met with equally large numbers of Chinese supporters yesterday as residents here gathered to catch a glimpse of the elusive world leader.

Jiang slipped into Drexel University's Main Building more than half an hour late, but still had to drive past a crowd of about 400 people--some jeering, some cheering--who lined the path of his presidential motorcade.

The diverse crowd was a blend of human rights demonstrators and patriotic Chinese supporters. Even though the two groups were well interspersed, individual members were easily identifiable: protesters stomped around with placards denouncing Jiang and the Chinese regime, while the throngs of sup- porters happily waved little red Chinese flags with yellow stars.

With a megaphone in hand, a member of Amnesty International shouted out slogans like "Nuns are raped: no one is safe," expecting the rest of the demonstrators to repeat.

With the exception of a couple of vociferous students, few in the crowd joined the Amnesty activist. Most passersby merely stood and watched.

Officers from the Philadelphia Police Department arrived in full dress and brought along four horses for crowd control. Secret Service agents and Drexel's own security personnel also played roles, holding crowds back almost half a block away from the Main Building.

Several protest leaders sat down defiantly at one point and refused to budge, only to realize it was a losing battle without widespread support from their own ranks or the Chinese supporters, who kept moving back without opposition.

A significant number in the crowd were from mainland China, and were on hand to make Jiang feel at home.

Cradling their grandson, a couple held up a banner with the words "We love China! Welcome President Jiang!" written in both English and Chinese. The baby, meanwhile, contributed by clutching a miniature flag of China.

"I just want my grandson to see our president," said the proud grandfather. "It would be so special."

At 2 p.m. yesterday, about 20 protesters gathered at a street corner one block away from the Main Building, for a quiet demonstration against China's policies towards Tibet. Organized by several Tibetan groups, the mini-rally attracted nearly as many reporters as protesters. But as the sun dropped in the sky by late afternoon, more and more people joined the swelling crowd.

A handful of Drexel students, most of whom were just passing by, joined the cause and held up placards and shouted a few slogans for television news crews and newspaper reporters.

"We have a right and a duty as Americans to protest. Our very existence is owed to protesting against the British," Brad Kenny said. Kenny, a first-year physics major, decided to join the demonstration when he walked out of his classroom and saw a poster advertising the protest.

For most students at Drexel, campaigning for human rights issues requires too much energy and effort, Kenny explained.

The Amnesty International chapter at Drexel failed to file as an official student group this year.

"I'll be the first to admit, I just don't have the time or the desire to write letters to Congressmen and the Embassy over in China," Kenny said. "But protesting out here is cool."

"Drexel is a tech school. The kids here are more concerned with their jobs and the economy than about human rights," said Sean Gallagher, a information systems major from Norwell, Mass. "But I think Hollywood's done a lot with concerts and movies to make people feel the plight of Tibetans."

Sandra Esner, co-founder of the Tibetan-American Resource Alliance, based in Langhorne, Pa., spent the afternoon shuttling three Buddhist monks between Drexel University, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, for activities scattered throughout the day.

"I believe in justice and equality," Esner said, as she taped Free Tibet Now signs on topoles. "Tibetans get neither."

It is not the Chinese people that Esner protests, but the government represented by Jiang. "The Chinese people are wonderful, as Tiananmen Square has proven. They have as much of a love for democracy as we have in America."

Esner took President Clinton to task for, in his words, not following up his campaign promises of 1992, when he chastised President Bush for buckling on human rights issues in the face of business leaders who wished to extend China's Most Favored Nation trade status. "If anyone has a memory, I do recall that our president ran on a human rights platform. Where is he now?" she asked.

Its not that easy, Professor of Physics Feng Da Hsuan would argue. "I'm not so sure I believe that human rights is an absolute concept with an absolute time frame," the professor said.

"America can't just jump in and ask for changes. It is arrogant and insensitive," Feng said.

Hu Xiao Ping, a Drexel graduate student from China, agreed: "Some of the protesters are completely ignorant about China. They have never visited China. They don't know what it is like to live there. How do they know about human rights in China?"

For Hu, Western ideas of democracy and human rights must take a back seat to basic needs, like food and shelter.

"I see big problems in human rights," Hu said. "But there are bigger problems in life--like feeding 1.2 billion people.

With a megaphone in hand, a member of Amnesty International shouted out slogans like "Nuns are raped: no one is safe," expecting the rest of the demonstrators to repeat.

With the exception of a couple of vociferous students, few in the crowd joined the Amnesty activist. Most passersby merely stood and watched.

Officers from the Philadelphia Police Department arrived in full dress and brought along four horses for crowd control. Secret Service agents and Drexel's own security personnel also played roles, holding crowds back almost half a block away from the Main Building.

Several protest leaders sat down defiantly at one point and refused to budge, only to realize it was a losing battle without widespread support from their own ranks or the Chinese supporters, who kept moving back without opposition.

A significant number in the crowd were from mainland China, and were on hand to make Jiang feel at home.

Cradling their grandson, a couple held up a banner with the words "We love China! Welcome President Jiang!" written in both English and Chinese. The baby, meanwhile, contributed by clutching a miniature flag of China.

"I just want my grandson to see our president," said the proud grandfather. "It would be so special."

At 2 p.m. yesterday, about 20 protesters gathered at a street corner one block away from the Main Building, for a quiet demonstration against China's policies towards Tibet. Organized by several Tibetan groups, the mini-rally attracted nearly as many reporters as protesters. But as the sun dropped in the sky by late afternoon, more and more people joined the swelling crowd.

A handful of Drexel students, most of whom were just passing by, joined the cause and held up placards and shouted a few slogans for television news crews and newspaper reporters.

"We have a right and a duty as Americans to protest. Our very existence is owed to protesting against the British," Brad Kenny said. Kenny, a first-year physics major, decided to join the demonstration when he walked out of his classroom and saw a poster advertising the protest.

For most students at Drexel, campaigning for human rights issues requires too much energy and effort, Kenny explained.

The Amnesty International chapter at Drexel failed to file as an official student group this year.

"I'll be the first to admit, I just don't have the time or the desire to write letters to Congressmen and the Embassy over in China," Kenny said. "But protesting out here is cool."

"Drexel is a tech school. The kids here are more concerned with their jobs and the economy than about human rights," said Sean Gallagher, a information systems major from Norwell, Mass. "But I think Hollywood's done a lot with concerts and movies to make people feel the plight of Tibetans."

Sandra Esner, co-founder of the Tibetan-American Resource Alliance, based in Langhorne, Pa., spent the afternoon shuttling three Buddhist monks between Drexel University, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, for activities scattered throughout the day.

"I believe in justice and equality," Esner said, as she taped Free Tibet Now signs on topoles. "Tibetans get neither."

It is not the Chinese people that Esner protests, but the government represented by Jiang. "The Chinese people are wonderful, as Tiananmen Square has proven. They have as much of a love for democracy as we have in America."

Esner took President Clinton to task for, in his words, not following up his campaign promises of 1992, when he chastised President Bush for buckling on human rights issues in the face of business leaders who wished to extend China's Most Favored Nation trade status. "If anyone has a memory, I do recall that our president ran on a human rights platform. Where is he now?" she asked.

Its not that easy, Professor of Physics Feng Da Hsuan would argue. "I'm not so sure I believe that human rights is an absolute concept with an absolute time frame," the professor said.

"America can't just jump in and ask for changes. It is arrogant and insensitive," Feng said.

Hu Xiao Ping, a Drexel graduate student from China, agreed: "Some of the protesters are completely ignorant about China. They have never visited China. They don't know what it is like to live there. How do they know about human rights in China?"

For Hu, Western ideas of democracy and human rights must take a back seat to basic needs, like food and shelter.

"I see big problems in human rights," Hu said. "But there are bigger problems in life--like feeding 1.2 billion people.

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