Skip to comments.Flag pushes China's #2 to side door
Posted on 05/26/2005 1:33:41 PM PDT by shaggy eel
A borrowed Tibetan flag forced the second most powerful man in the world's biggest country to scuttle through a side door at the start of a state visit to New Zealand.
Foreign Affairs officials diverted China's Wu Bangguo from a red carpet Maori welcome at the top of Parliament's steps to the much less salubrious Beehive entrance at present a construction zone because of a one-man protest by Green MP Rod Donald.
Mr Donald was waiting at the foot of the steps with a Tibetan flag borrowed from colleague Sue Kedgley.
Four Chinese security officers shouted, "Police, police" as he unfurled the flag and asked for him to be moved, but police there said he had the right to stay.
Police also ordered the Chinese to move when they stood in front of Mr Donald to shield the flag from Mr Wu, the second-ranked politician in China and chair of the National People's Congress.
The protest meant a powhiri by a school kapa haka group waiting at the top of the stairs was cancelled and Mr Wu was driven down a small alley to the main entrance of the Beehive, where he was met by Prime Minister Helen Clark. Scaffolding in the Beehive foyer, which is being refurbished, was moved, but the area still resembled a building site.
A spokesman for Miss Clark said staff from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry decided to bring Mr Wu through the Beehive so he would not have to walk past Mr Donald.
"They knew the presence of a Tibetan flag would cause gross offence to Mr Wu, so to save any embarrassment to the guest, they made a snap decision to forgo the powhiri and put him through that side door."
The diversion also limited Mr Wu's exposure to a handful of Free Tibet protesters, also with flags, on the lawn in front of Parliament. About 20 Chinese students, with a large Chinese flag, stood further along the lawn, and got a brief wave from Mr Wu as he was driven in.
The police response was in stark contrast to a similar incident in Christchurch in 1999, when a bus was parked in front of a group protesting against China's occupation of Tibet outside a state dinner for the president at the time, Jiang Zemin. Miss Clark, then the Opposition leader, was highly critical of the police actions.
China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, occupied Tibet in 1950, and is highly sensitive to criticism of human rights abuses there and elsewhere.
Miss Clark's spokesman said she did not want to comment on Mr Donald's actions. National leader Don Brash said he respected Mr Donald's right to protest, but did not think he had gone about it the right way.
But Mr Donald said he had sought permission from Speaker Margaret Wilson, and had given an assurance he would remain silent as Mr Wu went past. The Chinese response indicated the sensitivity of the Tibet issue.
"The Chinese clearly can't cope with democratic dissent in any form. They won't even walk past a single Green MP holding a Tibetan flag.
"They're their own worst enemies because they really highlighted the way the Chinese operate. Freedom of expression is banned in China and they were trying to extend their regime to New Zealand."
The protest was the only glitch during Mr Wu's visit to Wellington. He appeared unfazed by the cancellation of the welcome, and smiled broadly as he took a turn in Ms Wilson's chair during a tour of the House. He also visited the Miramar Weta studios of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.
Miss Clark's spokesman said she raised human rights with Mr Wu, but did not want to "go into specifics".
The leaders also touched on negotiations on a free-trade agreement and security issues in North Asia, where tensions between China and Japan and North Korea's bid to become a nuclear power are of international concern.
New Zealand scored a coup last year when it became the first developed country to enter free-trade talks with China.
Miss Clark will visit China for three days from Sunday, then travel to Japan for four days to build links with the economic powerhouses. Japan is New Zealand's third largest trading partner and China our fourth.
Mr Wu leaves Wellington for Auckland today.
I recall a few years back some high ranking Chinese official demaded the removal of protestors en route from Auckland airport to his hotel when his motorcade passed them. Those Chinese factories can duplicate anything at all except democracy.
Helen Klark was tight lipped - she's said too much already this week on the Tim Groser issue to make a total fool of herself, conclusively. It's four months from general elections in New Zealand and she's on the greasy pole.
China's second-ranked politician, Wu Bangguo, tries out the Speaker's chair during a tour of Parliament yesterday.
[Photo: ROB KITCHIN/Dominion Post]
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. -- John Stuart Mill
Truth needs no defense...It is a lion that simply needs to be let out of its cage -- Charles Spurgeon
'There is no neutral ground in the universe--every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan' -- C.S. Lewis
The Greens may be full of whack-jobs, but this is one place I can fully agree with them..................
,,, The Greens are the closest NZ has to Communists, but in saying that, Rod Donald has amazed me a number of times with comments that are both rational and based on integrity. He's no idiot and believes in what he's doing, unlike Klark, who spins on a dime with poll results, desperate to keep power.
Just like all other pols.......
Man that's too bad guys. If this had happened back in China these security officers could have made careers out of torturing this guy.
Weird happenings in KiwiLand. ;)
To those who don't know much about the PRC politics, Wu Banguo is one of Jiang Zemin's men in Beijing, and he is using every opportunity available to shoot down whatever points Hu Jiantao and Wen Jiabao have.
Remember we are dealing with one mob of Communists fighting another. Anyone who don't know the nature of the Chinese Communist Party should go and read this series by the Epoch Times:
Didn't you report on that incident, tallhappy? Did I get it wrong? :)
In Salt Lake City during the Olympics an apartment block put up flags for nations participating in the Olympics including Taiwan's flag. The Chinese communists contacted Salt Lake City police and demanded the Taiwan flag be removed from the building. The police did not acquiesce in that case.
back door Bangguo!