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China scorns protest gesture as 'farce' Official denounces 3 U.S. lawmakers


BEIJING -- China yesterday lambasted the three U.S. legislators who briefly paid homage Wednesday to Tiananmen Square protesters slain in 1989, calling the memorial ceremony "a premeditated farce" that was "anti-China."

A Foreign Ministry spokesman also accused them of breaking the law by staging an unauthorized demonstration on Tiananmen Square.

The central Beijing square was the focal point of the pro-democracy demonstrations that were brutally crushed in June 1989, leaving hundreds, if not more than 1,000, dead.

China's news agency quoted an official with the U.S. legislators' Chinese host, the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, who described their show of sympathy for Chinese dissidents as "a deliberate, anti-China incident."

"Their flagrant intervention in China's internal affairs naturally aroused great indignation among the Chinese people," the agency quoted the unidentified official as saying.

Some U.S. diplomats here also privately criticized the effort by U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Ben Jones, D-Ga., and John Miller, R-Wash., to draw attention to human right abuses in China, saying yesterday that it would not help imprisoned Chinese dissidents.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that "strong displeasure" was expressed to the legislators before they left China yesterday, as previously scheduled.

"China treats its guests with great respect," Wu Jianmin said at a weekly news briefing. "We also hope that our guests have self-respect instead of doing anything beneath their dignity.

"Dignified people like the U.S. congressmen, hiding from their hosts, went to the square to carry out illegal activities in violation of the regulations of Beijing," he said.

Advising neither Chinese nor U.S. Embassy officials of their plans, the three representatives went Wednesday to Tiananmen Square, laid down three white floral corsages and held up a small black banner that said, "To Those Who Died for Democracy in China."

After Mr. Jones made a brief statement eulogizing the hundreds of protesters killed by the Chinese army, Chinese police and securityagents briefly attempted to detain them, punched several TV cameramen and detained for more than an hour seven TV crew members.

The representatives came to China to raise human rights concerns in meetings with Chinese officials and to warn them that China's favorable trade status with the United States is in jeopardy as long as China still holds in its jails hundreds, perhaps 1,000 or more, Tiananmen activists.

The apparent intent of their Tiananmen ceremony was to refocus the world's attention on political repression in China.

But some U.S. diplomats were skeptical. "If their idea was to help human rights in China," said one U.S. envoy, "then that was the wrong way to go about it. It will not have the desired effect."

Before the incident, the three representatives predicted that the fall of communism in the Soviet Union would bring great pressure on China's hard-line regime to improve its treatment of political and religious dissidents -- pressure particularly from the United States.

But Mr. Wu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, maintained that the changes in the Soviet Union solely involve the Soviet people and that China's commitment to "the road of socialism" is unwavering.

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