Communism tribunal cuts Li Peng's visit short

  • 2000-09-14
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - Chinese Parliamentary Chairman Li Peng's planned two-day visit to Lithuania was unexpectedly cut to a mere three hours last week, when he refused to enter the Lithuanian parliament building where an international meeting on the crimes of communism was held.

Li Peng arrived Sept. 5 at 3:30 p.m. and was gone by dinner time. His meeting with Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, several Lithuanian members of Parliament and Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas was held in the airport's VIP hall, because the International Congress on the Evaluation of Crimes of Communism, also known as Nuremberg 2, was meeting in Lithuania's Parliament.

The Chinese delegation never left the airport.

This anti-Communist forum was organized by public organizations of political prisoners and human rights organizations of Lithuania and other Central and Eastern European countries. Participants from Western countries also took part. Some Lithuanian MPs were actively supporting organizers of the tribunal, which has moral, not legal, jurisdiction.

"This tribunal accuses Communist regimes throughout the world of killing more than 100 million people," said Conservative MP Antanas Stasiskis, a former political prisoner in a Soviet concentration camp.

Li Peng has been hounded by news reports during his tour of northern Europe for ordering the invasion of Tiananmen Square in 1989, leading to the deaths of hundreds of protesters, mostly students, gathered there to protest Communist rule.

During the meeting of Lithuanian and Chinese parliamentary chairmen in the VIP hall on Sept. 5, 10 Lithuanian protesters picketed the Vilnius International Airport, waving "Free Tibet" posters, and portraits of The Dalai Lama.

Opposition Democratic Labor Party MP Gediminas Kirkilas accused the ruling Conservative Party of bad will by not postponing the anti-Communist forum in Parliament during Li Peng's visit.

"Maybe it was done to please some countries that do not like China. China is and will be a very important partner in an economic and trade sense and in the sense of international relations. The ruling Conservatives are once again obscuring the country's international relations," Kirkilas said.

Arvydas Vidziunas, Conservative MP and parliamentary deputy chairman, denied such accusations. Vidziunas said that on Sept. 2 he told Chinese Embassy officials about the break in the tribunal's session for the time that Li Peng was expected to visit Parliament. "Chinese Embassy officials expressed satisfaction with this proposition. However, after an hour they changed their mind," Vidziunas said.

He participated at the meeting with Li Peng at the Vilnius airport. Vidziunas said that it was an "extremely friendly meeting."

Li Peng said that China respects Lithuania's wish to join the European Union and NATO, said Vidziunas. He added that emphasis on broadening Lithuanian - Chinese economic relations was made during the meeting.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Li Peng met on Sept. 3 in Reykjavik, on the eve of the Chinese delegation's visit to Vilnius. Both were in Iceland on official visits. Adamkus was going to the United Nations' headquarters in New York via Reykjavik, while Li Peng was on his way from the U.N. headquarters in New York to Vilnius via the Icelandic capital.

Li Peng noted with satisfaction Lithuania's efforts to put forward its candidacy for the U.N. Security Council's non-permanent membership in 2003 for the 2004-2005 term in office, stated Adamkus' press service. Lithuania would like to secure Beijing's support for this plan because China is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The Chinese state news agency reported very positively on the meeting.