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Harry Wu Speaks to Protesters



As Chinese President Jiang Zemin spoke Saturday in Sanders Theatre, the powerful voice of Harry Wu, the outspoken Chinese dissident, came from the crowd of human-rights and anti-Jiang protestors outside.

Members of the crowd of 5,000 protesters who flocked around the various speeches outside Sanders said they felt a relieving sense of balance, with both Jiang and Wu speaking.

"I thought his speech provided a good counterbalance to Jiang's extremely one-sided views," said Zuzanna M. Olszewska '01.

Honored in February 1995 by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, the University Marshal's office and the Institute of Politics, where he delivered an address, Wu on Saturday spoke to a crowd of thousands outside of Swedenborg Chapel, and then to more than 200 people in front of Memorial Church, directing his words to both the United States and to Jiang.

Wu said he was not personally offended at having Jiang honored here Saturday after Wu's own previous welcome.

"No, I didn't feel betrayed by the University because diversity is very important," he said in an interview following his speech.

Wu said the Communist regime that Jiang heads lacks both dignity and longevity.

"I saw the leaves falling down, and do you know what I said? 'Jiang Zemin, just like the leaves, is falling down,'" Wu said, adding that Jiang has "come here begging--begging for money."

Jiang's state visit to the U.S., which included talks with President Clinton on trade issues as well as several banquets with corporate leaders, prompted Wu to criticize "proponents of engagement with China [who] argue that economic development will lead to democracy."

"Money cannot buy over totalitarianism," Wu said.

Responding to the thousands of Chinese supporters who cheered Jiang's arrival at Harvard. Wu repeated his feeling of disappointment and described a Chinese "mind" that traditionally has held great reverence for top political leaders.

In an interview with The Crimson, Wu said the Chinese "people traditionally put most importance in their motherland, and cannot distinguish between their leader and country."

Wu said he was ashamed and saddened by the presence of many Jiang supporters. "Their president is a slaughterer," he said. "This is the country with the No. 1 record for human-rights violations and executions--he's a murderer."

Wu said the Chinese people realize that "something's wrong" with the ruling regime but are reluctant to draw negative attention to the country's problems. Those problems are compounded, he said, by the isolation of the Chinese people from Western democratic influences.

Wu assailed Jiang's statement that the role of the Chinese government is to promote the happiness of its citizens and that they appear satisfied. Wu said that China's isolation and social turmoil in the 20th century have contributed to a lack of understanding of the meaning of human rights.

"In China, there is not a word in the dictionary [for human rights]; in the mind here is no idea of rights," Wu said, adding quickly: "but that doesn't mean they aren't humans and that they don't deserve this choice."

Wu said he sees the mentality of the Chinese people as the greatest determinant of change, playing a central role in his expectations for the future of the Communist government.

"It's possible to see the collapse very soon, but it doesn't mean that it'll be a democracy," he said.

Wu's appearance at Harvard was sponsored by the Salient, a conservative student magazine.

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