AP photo of a Secret Service officer covering the mouth of Wenyi Wang as she was escorted from the camera stand on the South Lawn yesterday.
Read this suberb editorial in Investor’s Business Daily about Wenyi Wang, the woman who shouted down Chinese president Hu Jintao yesterday. A snippet:
Even in a country that celebrates free speech, you don’t spontaneously vocalize grievances at state events. Disruptive citizens routinely are pulled out of congressional galleries. And don’t even think about saying something snarky in a presidential rope line.
Still, we marvel at Dr. Wang’s timing, even at what might be recorded as a landmark accomplishment in China’s long march to a freer society. Her outburst came just after Bush, in his prepared remarks, urged Hu to allow Chinese to “speak freely.”
The scene went out live on CNN International, only to be blacked out on the Chinese mainland. Enough might have slipped through, however, to have caused murmurs among Chinese dissidents, any one of whom would have been jailed and even tortured for such an impertinent protest.
The Falun Gong, of which Dr. Wang is a practitioner, has felt the communist lash most painfully. Sometimes depicted in Western media as a flaky cult, the movement offers a syncretistic update of Confucianism and Taoism. Its members stress meditation, exercise and a noncoercive lifestyle.
All that, together with the serious analysis of Hu’s regime published in its international newspaper, runs afoul of collectivism, which even now provides the ruling communists a governing ideology. Falun Gong members regularly find themselves taken from their families, jailed, tortured and reportedly killed.
The Epoch Times also fills its pages with photographic evidence of their bloodied brethren. So this is the murderous milieu from which Dr. Wang thought it necessary to scramble onto her momentary platform. Her editors claim they didn’t authorize her performance, which went well beyond a reporter’s role.
But just maybe there was something deliciously reportorial about Dr. Wang’s protest. It drew attention to the many victims of Beijing’s oppression at a time when so much of the Western media gloss over the ugly side of modernizing China. Surely it was no ruder than some of the White House press corps’ antics…
The New York Daily News has more details about Wenyi Wang’s life. She has confronted the Chinese regime face-to-face before:
Wang, a mother of two who lives in Flushing, Queens, used to be a researcher at Mount Sinai Medical Center but now works full-time as a Falun Gong activist, friends said.
She’s particularly fixated on outrageous, unproven allegations the Chinese government is harvesting organs for profit from Falun Gong adherents herded into labor camps.
“She’s a medical doctor so it’s very close to her heart,” said friend and Falun Gong adherent Levi Browde, who was in Washington for protests against Hu.
Wang, who was born in China but is a naturalized U.S. citizen, got onto White House grounds with a pass from the Epoch Times, a Falun Gong newspaper.
Her lawyer, Terri Marsh, said she had not informed the paper or Falun Gong higher-ups about her plans to disrupt the event.
“It was an individual act of conscience,” Marsh said.
Wang was charged with disorderly conduct, and authorities were weighing a federal count of willingly intimidating and disrupting a foreign official.
Wang has been a follower of Falun Gong since 1998 and has been speaking out against the Chinese clampdown for at least five years – both in San Diego, where she attended medical school, and in New York.
At Mount Sinai, former co-workers described her as a competent scientist who was obsessed with Falun Gong and left leaflets about the group in the employee lounge.
“We were glad to be rid of her,” said one administrative worker. “She talked about her country a lot and about human rights. When I saw her on TV, I thought, ‘She’s still at it?'”
Another ex-colleague said she was shocked but impressed to see the soft-spoken Wang’s White House eruption. “I thought, ‘Good for her, she got her message straight to the President,'” she said.
Two years ago, Wang was in the news for organizing a Falun Gong art show at Mount Sinai, which yanked the exhibit within hours because it was so graphic.
Last year, she went on a day-long hunger strike after the Chinese consulate refused to renew her passport so she could return to northeast China for her father’s funeral.
“The reason is very simple. I have very actively criticized the Chinese regime for their persecution of Falun Gong practitioners,” she said at the time.
But Wang’s boldest Falun Gong protest came in 2001, when she traveled to Malta during a visit by China’s then-President Jiang Zemin.
She managed to slip through a security cordon and confront him face-to-face, demanding he “stop the killing” before being detained by security officials.
A remarkable woman. Be proud of this bold American, not sorry.
Reader Tim e-mails: “She should have more coverage than Cindy Sheehan, but she won’t because Hu is viewed as better than Bush.”
Matthew Sheffield at Newsbusters recounts how China censored the CNN broadcast of Wang’s confrontation with Hu:
According to CNNi representative, the network’s feed was disrupted only for Chinese viewers. Two incidents of censorship took place, during the demonstration and during the first post-speech discussion of the protest.
“From time to time the Chinese authorities do disrupt CNN’s signal into mainland China,” CNNi spokesman Nigel Pritchard tells NewsBusters. “It happens every so often.”
Pritchard declined to say whether CNN protests such acts of censorship to government officials. “I’m not going to discuss my or CNN’s coversations with the Chinese government,” he said. The network does not make public protests against such censorship, according to Pritchard.
Kathryn Lopez heard that BBC coverage was also censored.
Australian media report:
Newspapers, radio and television stations, and even accessible Internet sites in China have all failed to report it.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman gave no explanation why it has not been reported and said it was up to the Chinese media.
Related – Don Feder writes: “It’s Hu you know.”