About 700 protesters chanted and burned Chinese flags as Chinese President Jiang Zemin met privately Sunday with California Gov. Pete Wilson and asked business and political leaders for patience and cooperation.
“As the old Chinese saying goes: A 10,000-mile journey begins with the first step,” Jiang said in a luncheon speech in Beverly Hills on the final day of his eight-day U.S. tour.
Speaking first in Chinese and then in English, Jiang said efforts to enhance relations between China and the United States shouldn’t be deterred by “differences that cannot be ironed out for the time being.
“The differences between us should be handled properly and with mutual respect,” he said.
The crowd of 700 chuckled when Jiang, who ordinarily speaks good English, stumbled with courtesy titles as he toasted the prosperity of the heirs of the governor and his “madam” and those of Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and his “madam.”
Jiang’s other listeners were a powerful and eclectic group: News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Arco Chairman Mike Bowlin, Occidental Petroleum chief Ray Irani, opera director Peter Sellars and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.
Jiang made no reference to the noisy but peaceful demonstration outside the Beverly Hilton by protesters against China’s human rights record and its policies toward Taiwan and occupied Tibet.
Chanting “Free Tibet,” demonstrators burned three Chinese flags. In a mock display, protesters in outfits representing Chinese communist soldiers “arrested” Tibetan monks, whose faces were painted to show they had been bloodied.
Before the luncheon speech, Jiang met privately with Wilson - the kind of reception he was denied in New York when Gov. George Pataki refused to sit down with him.
Wilson nudged Jiang on human rights.
“Their interests in terms of increasing trade with the United States and ultimately gaining access to the World Trade Organization as a member would be enormously enhanced and accelerated if they were to make some rather high-profile changes,” Wilson said.
The governor advocates negotiating on trade issues as a means of forcing changes in Chinese human rights policies.
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