China protesters see red over Pelosi visit

BEIJING Wed May 27, 2009 6:11am EDT

1 of 3. Workers remove slogans that were spray-painted by petitioners urging visiting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to intervene and improve human rights conditions in China, outside the State Council Information Office in Beijing May 27, 2009. Chinese protesters gave their own raucous welcome for Pelosi on Wednesday, crying out for the lawmaker to live up to her reputation as a foe of human rights abuses.

Credit: Reuters/Reinhard Krause

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese protesters gave a raucous welcome for House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, painting red slogans and crying out for the lawmaker to live up to her reputation as a foe of human rights abuses.

Police quickly dragged away the small group demonstrating in front of a central government office -- far from any of the sites visited by Pelosi and other Congress members, who have been focused on climate change negotiations.

Demonstrations over everything from pollution to crime are common in China, but rare in front of major government offices in tightly controlled Beijing. Some of the protesters spray-painted red slogans on the main gate of the State Council Information Office reading "Pelosi we love you," "Warmly welcome Pelosi, pay attention to human rights" and "Down with corruption."

"We hope that the U.S. speaker Pelosi will speak out for the human rights of Chinese people, that she won't be afraid to defend us," said protester Chen Fengqiang, 51, from the southern Guangdong province.

Chen said the petitioners chose the building to make their point, as it is the propaganda arm of the government.

"Pelosi shouldn't ignore human rights. But the State Council Information Office is the mouthpiece of the government, and it doesn't tell the truth. So we came here to send a message to the top leaders too."

Pelosi is a Democrat well known as a critic of China over human rights and its rule in Tibet, though her current visit is focused on climate change.

The protest happened as the State Council was holding a news conference about the economy. The event was not disrupted.

Workers quickly moved to paint over the slogans.

A Reuters witness saw police dragging at least three screaming protesters into a police car. Others melted away into the crowd which had gathered to watch.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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