An Invitation You Can’t Refuse

When a Falun Gong activist shouted at Chinese President Hu Jintao during a press conference on the South Lawn of the White House on April 20, California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin wasn’t watching it on TV.

He was there to see the whole thing in person.

Chin and his wife, Carol, were among dozens of dignitaries who had been invited by the Bush administration to attend a White House luncheon honoring the Chinese leader. Other guests included William Ford Jr., chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Co., and his wife Lisa; figure skating champion Michelle Kwan; Yale University President Richard Levin; and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Chin said he spoke briefly with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer — who confided he wasn’t a regular White House invitee either — and faced a mini social crisis when he entered a room and saw Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on one side and Nixon administration Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the other.

Chin, a solid Republican, said he told his wife he didn’t know who to speak to first. (He opted for Kissinger).

Chin also said he was surprised to be invited in the first place and thought about not attending. After all, he’s still on the mend for surgery earlier this year for subdural bleeding.

“When I told [state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George] about it, I told him, ‘I’m not sure I’m up to that,’” Chin said, “and he said, ‘Oh, you have to go.’”

But one has to wonder if Chin will be invited back.

In August 2005, he recalled, while serving as a delegate to the World Jurists Conference in Beijing at the invitation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a woman in Tiananmen Square also began screaming. And guess about what? You’ve got it. The mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

Coincidence? Chin certainly hopes so.

— Mike McKee


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