Outside the Museum, supporters and protesters squared off on the issues. and Beth Garstkiewicz As Penn officials feted Chinese President Jiang Zemin inside the University Museum yesterday afternoon, boisterous crowds of onlookers, supporters and protesters gathered on the streets outside to let Jiang -- and each other --Eknow what they thought of it all. Signs assailing the Chinese government's record on human rights vied for the attention of passing motorists with waving red Chinese flags. By the time Jiang's motorcade arrived around 6 p.m. -- two hours after the first protesters set up their pickets -- the competing slogans and chants had blended together into a noisy, spirited chaos that nearly drowned out the traffic on Spruce Street. About 80 people gathered near the Chemistry Building at 33rd and Spruce streets in an Amnesty International-led protest of Jiang's visit and the University's new management training program for the Chinese government. "Penn is still educating slave holders," read one sign. "Yo! Penn! Wake Up!" was spelled in red and blue letters on another. "If we were in China, we'd be in jail by now," said a third. But in what is becoming a common phenomenon during Jiang's U.S. tour this week, the president was largely shielded from his challengers. More than 40 Philadelphia and University police officers -- acting on U.S. Secret Service orders -- had helped move the Amnesty group away from their original spot across the street from the Museum's main gate long before Jiang showed up. And the motorcade sped past the throngs of people on both sides of the street, leaving the crowd a bit disappointed that no one got a longer glimpse. "It's very, very frustrating," said College senior Joshua Marcus, an organizer of the protest. "If we were there, he could hear us," he said, pointing toward Franklin Field. Across the street from Marcus' group -- closer, in fact, to where Jiang's motorcade drove by -- about 80 cheering supporters said they were there to welcome the president of the world's most populous nation. "I don't want for him to be alone," said Engineering sophomore Hua Zhu, whose family moved from Beijing to Louisiana about five years ago. "I'm here to show some kind of support." Waving a Chinese flag, Zhu had no comment on the issues being raised on the other side of the street. But a first-year Chemistry graduate student, who lives in Beijing, said American protesters "overemphasize the Tibet issue." "People need to go to Tibet to see the truth," he said. He was interrupted by the one moment of incivility, when a protester yelled across the street, "Fuck your fascist flags!" Protesters cited a wide variety of issues drawing them to the scene, from torture to Tibet to Tianamen Square. A group of Taiwanese students, who stressed that they weren't affiliated with any University club, said they were simply there to emphasize Taiwan's right to independence. "Human rights is not our point," said Roger Finn, a fourth-year Mathematics graduate student, trying to distinguish his group from the other protesters. "We're just here to say, 'Taiwan is not a part of China'." Meanwhile, Marcus emphasized his disgust with Penn for agreeing to provide $250,000 of training to the Chinese government through Wharton and the Graduate School of Education -- free of charge. "As long as this program exists, I will not donate a dollar to Penn," he said, adding that he hoped faintly that the protest would convince the University to drop the program. "It's hard not to expect to be disappointed with the Penn administration, but you never know. Even Judith Rodin understands that torture is wrong."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.