News

Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus

News

For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma

News

Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties

News

In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home

News

The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Jiang Addresses Harvard, America

* President cites China's culture, economic reform

By Georgia N. Alexakis, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

When Chinese President Jiang Zemin delivered his long-awaited speech in Sanders Theatre Saturday morning, he used the occasion to remind his American audience that China has achieved much during its 5,000-year history.

For nearly 30 minutes, Jiang out-lined his country's scientific, cultural and economic advances and called for a stronger partnership between China and the United States. It was only during the brief question-and-answer session that followed his address that Jiang admitted that the policies of the People's Republic may leave some room for improvement.

"The people are very satisfied with the reforms we have scored under the reform and opening-up program of China," Jiang said through a translator, in response to a question submitted by the coalition protesting his visit to Harvard.

"The policy of the government is to serve the people, and therefore we have to reflect the people's requests do everything that will meet the people's requests," Jiang said. "It goes without saying that, naturally, we may have shortcomings and even make mistakes in our work. However, we have been working on a constant basis to further improve our work."

Jiang reiterated his country's need to change when responding to a question posed by Carroll R. Bogert '83, a journalist with Newsweek magazine who asked the only question Jiang fielded directly from the audience. Bogart asked the president if he has learned anything about democracy during his state visit to the United States and from the mass protests that seem to have accompanied him on every leg of his journey.

"During my current trip to the United States, starting from Hawaii, I got a more specific understanding of the American democracy, more specific than I learned from books," Jiang said, addressing the audience of University faculty and administrators, foreign and national press and a few hundred undergraduates and graduates.

But Jiang said it was difficult to ignore the protesters just outside Sanders, whose loud shouts translated into a dull roar inside the packed theater.

"Although I am already 71 years old, my ears still work very well, so when I was delivering my speech I did hear sounds from the loudspeaker outside. However, I believe the only approach for me is to speak even louder than it," he said.

But while Jiang said throughout his speech that his country was well on its way to becoming a "modern democratic nation" whose socialist democracy would allow it to "ensure the full exercise of the rights of people," Jiang did not completely abandon the party line.

On the issue of Tibet and his refusal to meet with the 14th Dalai Lama--a question submitted by Eric D. Mortensen, a fifth-year graduate student in Tibetan and Himalayan studies--Jiang said that China's policy was "a very clear-cut one."

The light-heartedness with which Jiang had only moments before displayed, when inviting President Neil L. Rudenstine to join him in Beijing or Shanghai next year, disappeared. Instead, Jiang leafed through his papers, quietly coughed and answered the question, making eye contact with only his translator, not batting an eye.

"[The Dalai Lama] must state and recognize publicly that Tibet is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China," Jiang said. "He must state publicly to give up Tibetan independence, and he must stop all activities aimed at splitting the motherland."

Mortensen said in an interview yesterday that he was not entirely satisfied with Jiang's response.

"He gave a firm stance, but I was hoping he would break it down and explain it more," Mortensen said. "It was predictable."

Still, the questions Jiang answered brought the president closer to addressing the political concerns shouted by protesters coast-to-coast than have any other utterances during his trip. He spent the rest of his appearance on Saturday advocating a stronger partnership between the United States and China based on a greater mutual understanding of each country's culture.

Jiang abandoned his native Mandarin and the use of his translator midway through his speech to praise the American people in fairly fluent English.

"We will never forget the contributions which have touched us deeply," Jiang said, speaking of the Americans who supported China's democratic liberation cause in 1911. "The Chinese people have always admired the American people for their pragmatic attitude and creative spirit."

Explaining that the two countries and their "complementary markets" had the potential to benefit from one another, Jiang said he and President Clinton agreed during their meetings "to promote the lofty cause of world peace and development."

"China and the U.S. share common interests, and they share common responsibilities on many important questions," Jiang said, calling for the two countries to work together to maintain world peace, prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and protect the environment for human survival.

Jiang closed his address on a positive note, referring to the motto over Dexter Gate, one of the gates to Harvard Yard, that reads: "Enter to grow in wisdom; depart to serve better thy country and thy kind."

"Young people in China have also a motto: Keep the motherland in heart and serve the people with heart and soul," Jiang said. "I hope that in the course of building our countries, younger generations of Chinese and Americans will learn from each other...and strive for a better future."

Inside Sanders

Sanders Theatre was bustling with activity hours before Jiang made his 11 a.m. appearance.

Students went through ID card checks and metal detectors before checking their coats inside the theater and being led to the balcony--where by 9:30 the majority of the undergraduates who beat the odds and won a coveted ticket had already taken their seats.

Security remained tight throughout the event, with members of the Secret Service posted throughout the theater. One Secret Service member remained stationed at the narrow balcony directly above the stage throughout the event.

Jiang was flanked by Rudenstine; Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles; University Marshal Richard M. Hunt; Director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies Ezra F. Vogel; Li Daoyou, the Chinese ambassador to the United States; Qian Qichen, China's vice premier and foreign minister, and James Sasser, the U.S. ambassador to China. Jiang entered Sanders on schedule and promptly received a 20-second standing ovation.

"It's not so much what he said but more about the magnetism of his power," said Rebecca U. Weiner '99. "The woman sitting next to me started shaking when he stepped onto the stage. She was that excited to see him."

After brief introductions by Hunt, Knowles and Rudenstine, Jiang took center stage, where he proceeded to keep audiences in Sanders, Science Center A and E and the Boylston auditorium racing to keep up with the rapid Mandarin-to-English translation.

Two outbursts disrupted the polite attentiveness and occasional laughter with which Jiang's speech was generally received.

Immediately following Jiang's speech, Vogel announced that Jiang would answer questions selected by a committee of fellows of the Fairbank Center, which received more than 100 questions.

At that point, one man stood up in the upper balcony and shouted the words "human rights." He was immediately joined by four more people, dressed in white T-shirts. All five turned their backs to Jiang, revealing the slogan "Free Tibet" in large, black letters.

Two of the protesters left a few minutes into the question-and-answer session, while another two sat down shortly afterwards. The final protester remained standing through the entire session.

Shortly after, when Vogel announced that Jiang would answer a question from the audience, Philip J. Cunningham, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard on leave from Tokyo's Japan Times, seized the opportunity to shout out, "I have a question."

Cunningham, who appeared in "Gate of Heavenly Peace," a PBS documentary on Tiananmen Square, and who was present during the student protests, was first ignored by Vogel, who instead pointed to Bogert.

When Cunningham persisted, shouting "What about Wei Jingsheng?" Vogel repeatedly ordered him to sit down.

Wei, the longest-serving Chinese political prisoner, was last interviewed by Cunningham before he was arrested again for speaking with foreign reporters and the U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, John Shattuck, after Wei was released from prison in 1993, 14 years after his initial 1979 arrest.

Wei is currently serving another 14-year prison term.

"I wanted to ask him to release Wei Jingsheng," Cunningham said in an interview after the speech. "Wei had been released, but the Chinese reneged on that. They've been playing hardball, but it's become a travesty of justice."

Despite these disturbances, most said that the Sanders Theatre audience was interested in hearing what Jiang had to say.

"The people were really trying to be polite, but there a lot of people with issues with what Jiang is doing in China," said a fellow with the Fairbank Center. "Most people inside, though, are interested in the democratic process of dialogue--engagement but not endorsement."

Reaction

The same Fairbank fellow needed only one word to sum up her feelings on Jiang's speech: "fluff."

"He was politically astute," the fellow said. "I don't think he really wanted to hear American reaction. It was pure acting. He knew that would be the issue--whether he would take questions."

Among the crowds that flowed out of Boylston and Sanders after the speech, it was not difficult to find people dissatisfied with Jiang's answers.

"I didn't learn much [from going to the speech], but I did learn that Chinese politicians act the same as politicians in the United States," said Bryce S. Klempner '00, who said he went to the speech to learn more about the Chinese government and its international politics.

"He wasn't explicit about whether the Chinese government actually did something wrong in Tiananmen Square," said Nikhil Wagle '99, who woke up early Saturday morning to watch the televised broadcast of the speech in his room.

Close observers of the president said they were impressed by his ability to show his American audience a very Western side.

"I think he's the first Chinese leader who presented Western humor," said Tam Wai Yi, deputy China editor for TVB News, a Hong Kong television station.

"He's trying to create a different image--more open, more friendly to American-style democracy," she added. "In the past, you could just not imagine a Chinese leader on stage in front of an audience answering questions."

Robert S. Ross, a research associate at the Fairbank Center and a professor of political science at Boston College, said he was impressed that Jiang had willingly entered "the lion's den."

"Deng Xiaoping would have never answered questions," said Ross, who was also a member of the faculty committee that selected Jiang's questions. "This is a new type of leader."

But others said that they were disappointed that Jiang had fielded only one question from the audience.

"I think he wanted to hear more students. He wants to hear what Americans really have to think," said Abigail L. Hing '99, who said Jiang's speech took place in a very "sheltered environment."

"The questions weren't anything new," Hing said. "I'm sure he had the answers ready."A-8JIANGCrimsonWilliam B. DecherdPOLICY ADDRESS: Harvard President NEIL L. RUDENSTINE cranes to listen to an audience members as President JIANG ZEMIN answers a question.

"During my current trip to the United States, starting from Hawaii, I got a more specific understanding of the American democracy, more specific than I learned from books," Jiang said, addressing the audience of University faculty and administrators, foreign and national press and a few hundred undergraduates and graduates.

But Jiang said it was difficult to ignore the protesters just outside Sanders, whose loud shouts translated into a dull roar inside the packed theater.

"Although I am already 71 years old, my ears still work very well, so when I was delivering my speech I did hear sounds from the loudspeaker outside. However, I believe the only approach for me is to speak even louder than it," he said.

But while Jiang said throughout his speech that his country was well on its way to becoming a "modern democratic nation" whose socialist democracy would allow it to "ensure the full exercise of the rights of people," Jiang did not completely abandon the party line.

On the issue of Tibet and his refusal to meet with the 14th Dalai Lama--a question submitted by Eric D. Mortensen, a fifth-year graduate student in Tibetan and Himalayan studies--Jiang said that China's policy was "a very clear-cut one."

The light-heartedness with which Jiang had only moments before displayed, when inviting President Neil L. Rudenstine to join him in Beijing or Shanghai next year, disappeared. Instead, Jiang leafed through his papers, quietly coughed and answered the question, making eye contact with only his translator, not batting an eye.

"[The Dalai Lama] must state and recognize publicly that Tibet is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China," Jiang said. "He must state publicly to give up Tibetan independence, and he must stop all activities aimed at splitting the motherland."

Mortensen said in an interview yesterday that he was not entirely satisfied with Jiang's response.

"He gave a firm stance, but I was hoping he would break it down and explain it more," Mortensen said. "It was predictable."

Still, the questions Jiang answered brought the president closer to addressing the political concerns shouted by protesters coast-to-coast than have any other utterances during his trip. He spent the rest of his appearance on Saturday advocating a stronger partnership between the United States and China based on a greater mutual understanding of each country's culture.

Jiang abandoned his native Mandarin and the use of his translator midway through his speech to praise the American people in fairly fluent English.

"We will never forget the contributions which have touched us deeply," Jiang said, speaking of the Americans who supported China's democratic liberation cause in 1911. "The Chinese people have always admired the American people for their pragmatic attitude and creative spirit."

Explaining that the two countries and their "complementary markets" had the potential to benefit from one another, Jiang said he and President Clinton agreed during their meetings "to promote the lofty cause of world peace and development."

"China and the U.S. share common interests, and they share common responsibilities on many important questions," Jiang said, calling for the two countries to work together to maintain world peace, prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and protect the environment for human survival.

Jiang closed his address on a positive note, referring to the motto over Dexter Gate, one of the gates to Harvard Yard, that reads: "Enter to grow in wisdom; depart to serve better thy country and thy kind."

"Young people in China have also a motto: Keep the motherland in heart and serve the people with heart and soul," Jiang said. "I hope that in the course of building our countries, younger generations of Chinese and Americans will learn from each other...and strive for a better future."

Inside Sanders

Sanders Theatre was bustling with activity hours before Jiang made his 11 a.m. appearance.

Students went through ID card checks and metal detectors before checking their coats inside the theater and being led to the balcony--where by 9:30 the majority of the undergraduates who beat the odds and won a coveted ticket had already taken their seats.

Security remained tight throughout the event, with members of the Secret Service posted throughout the theater. One Secret Service member remained stationed at the narrow balcony directly above the stage throughout the event.

Jiang was flanked by Rudenstine; Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles; University Marshal Richard M. Hunt; Director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies Ezra F. Vogel; Li Daoyou, the Chinese ambassador to the United States; Qian Qichen, China's vice premier and foreign minister, and James Sasser, the U.S. ambassador to China. Jiang entered Sanders on schedule and promptly received a 20-second standing ovation.

"It's not so much what he said but more about the magnetism of his power," said Rebecca U. Weiner '99. "The woman sitting next to me started shaking when he stepped onto the stage. She was that excited to see him."

After brief introductions by Hunt, Knowles and Rudenstine, Jiang took center stage, where he proceeded to keep audiences in Sanders, Science Center A and E and the Boylston auditorium racing to keep up with the rapid Mandarin-to-English translation.

Two outbursts disrupted the polite attentiveness and occasional laughter with which Jiang's speech was generally received.

Immediately following Jiang's speech, Vogel announced that Jiang would answer questions selected by a committee of fellows of the Fairbank Center, which received more than 100 questions.

At that point, one man stood up in the upper balcony and shouted the words "human rights." He was immediately joined by four more people, dressed in white T-shirts. All five turned their backs to Jiang, revealing the slogan "Free Tibet" in large, black letters.

Two of the protesters left a few minutes into the question-and-answer session, while another two sat down shortly afterwards. The final protester remained standing through the entire session.

Shortly after, when Vogel announced that Jiang would answer a question from the audience, Philip J. Cunningham, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard on leave from Tokyo's Japan Times, seized the opportunity to shout out, "I have a question."

Cunningham, who appeared in "Gate of Heavenly Peace," a PBS documentary on Tiananmen Square, and who was present during the student protests, was first ignored by Vogel, who instead pointed to Bogert.

When Cunningham persisted, shouting "What about Wei Jingsheng?" Vogel repeatedly ordered him to sit down.

Wei, the longest-serving Chinese political prisoner, was last interviewed by Cunningham before he was arrested again for speaking with foreign reporters and the U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, John Shattuck, after Wei was released from prison in 1993, 14 years after his initial 1979 arrest.

Wei is currently serving another 14-year prison term.

"I wanted to ask him to release Wei Jingsheng," Cunningham said in an interview after the speech. "Wei had been released, but the Chinese reneged on that. They've been playing hardball, but it's become a travesty of justice."

Despite these disturbances, most said that the Sanders Theatre audience was interested in hearing what Jiang had to say.

"The people were really trying to be polite, but there a lot of people with issues with what Jiang is doing in China," said a fellow with the Fairbank Center. "Most people inside, though, are interested in the democratic process of dialogue--engagement but not endorsement."

Reaction

The same Fairbank fellow needed only one word to sum up her feelings on Jiang's speech: "fluff."

"He was politically astute," the fellow said. "I don't think he really wanted to hear American reaction. It was pure acting. He knew that would be the issue--whether he would take questions."

Among the crowds that flowed out of Boylston and Sanders after the speech, it was not difficult to find people dissatisfied with Jiang's answers.

"I didn't learn much [from going to the speech], but I did learn that Chinese politicians act the same as politicians in the United States," said Bryce S. Klempner '00, who said he went to the speech to learn more about the Chinese government and its international politics.

"He wasn't explicit about whether the Chinese government actually did something wrong in Tiananmen Square," said Nikhil Wagle '99, who woke up early Saturday morning to watch the televised broadcast of the speech in his room.

Close observers of the president said they were impressed by his ability to show his American audience a very Western side.

"I think he's the first Chinese leader who presented Western humor," said Tam Wai Yi, deputy China editor for TVB News, a Hong Kong television station.

"He's trying to create a different image--more open, more friendly to American-style democracy," she added. "In the past, you could just not imagine a Chinese leader on stage in front of an audience answering questions."

Robert S. Ross, a research associate at the Fairbank Center and a professor of political science at Boston College, said he was impressed that Jiang had willingly entered "the lion's den."

"Deng Xiaoping would have never answered questions," said Ross, who was also a member of the faculty committee that selected Jiang's questions. "This is a new type of leader."

But others said that they were disappointed that Jiang had fielded only one question from the audience.

"I think he wanted to hear more students. He wants to hear what Americans really have to think," said Abigail L. Hing '99, who said Jiang's speech took place in a very "sheltered environment."

"The questions weren't anything new," Hing said. "I'm sure he had the answers ready."A-8JIANGCrimsonWilliam B. DecherdPOLICY ADDRESS: Harvard President NEIL L. RUDENSTINE cranes to listen to an audience members as President JIANG ZEMIN answers a question.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags