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Standing face to face with the opposition, supporters of Chinese President Jiang Zemin lined the streets around Sanders Theatre Saturday morning, loudly chanting "One China" and waving the bright red flags of their native country, as well as America's Stars and Stripes.
"I welcome [Jiang] because it is important for American and Chinese people to set a good relationship," said Yan Yingfei, a Chinese citizen who works in Cambridge.
Yan, with a broad smile and enthusiastic nod, said he was proud that his president was visiting the United States.
Many other Chinese and Chinese-Americans present expressed similar feelings. They said China has become more democratic, brought economic improvement to its people and has emerged as an important player on the world stage.
"China is now stronger and moving in the right direction," said Bao Lu, a student at Harvard Medical School.
"We must have patience," added Xingjia Cui, a student at the School of Public Health.
Chinese nationalists jockeyed for position with human-rights protesters who help up banners across the street. The protesters shouted "Free Tibet" or "Jiang Zemin bullshit!" and the supporters of China vehemently responded with "One China" or "Jiang Zemin, Jiang Zemin!"
As Jiang's motorcade passed, the crowd surged forward, and the supporters of China, in unison, emitted yells fit for a rock and roll concert.
The Cambridge police estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 protesters and supporters thronged the campus in total.
The Greater Boston Area Chinese Welcome Committee--a coalition of four dozen groups--organized the Jiang supporters, giving their welcome a professional look.
Most of the Chinese picked up small Chinese and American flags from boxes placed in the street by the committee. Some carried large red banners of welcome.
The Lyndon LaRouche organization, a radical group that works within China, helped to mobilize the supporters. Nationalists gathered around the Lyndon LaRouche banners and speakers with megaphones from the organization.
Roger Ham, a member of the Lyndon LaRouche organization, spoke to a group in front of a banner which read "LaRouche Welcomes Jiang Zemin U.S.-China Partnership."
Ham rallied supporters by shouting, "We want to see China become a great industrial nation like the U.S."
U.S.-Chinese cooperation is crucial to a peaceful relationship between the two nations, Ham told The Crimson in an interview.
Ham said Americans have many misconceptions about China and need to be more educated about the country before they make judgments.
Responding to charges by anti-Jiang demonstrators that the China is responsible for repressive human-rights violations, he said "China is doing far more for human rights than any other country in the world by eradicating poverty."
According to Ham, living in a poverty-and disease-free environment, like the one that the Chinese government is trying to create, is a fundamental human right.
Many of the Chinese citizens added that, although China has committed human-rights violations, they are not, in many cases, more serious than infringements of human rights in the United States and in other democratic countries.
Cui said that in the United States, racial discrimination is equally prevalent, as evidenced by events like the racialized beating of Rodney G. King, which sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He added that he believes China's human-rights record is steadily improving.
John Zhang, an MIT student, said the Taiwanese would be worse off without Chinese influence. "They are homeless. We try to take care of them."
Other Jiang supporters had different reactions to the protesters.
Some said they felt the protesters had a right to voice their opinions. They said they were not bothered by the demonstrations.
But others said that the protesters undermined Jiang's visit.
"There are a lot of things China needs to improve but protesting here will not do anything," said Xuehu Zhang, a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and a Boston resident.
None of the Chinese citizens interviewed would comment about Jiang or the effectiveness of his programs.
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