Chen Xitong

Bafflement at Clinton's confession

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 August, 1998, 12:00am


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US PRESIDENT Bill Clinton's televised confession last week to an 'inappropriate' relationship with Monica Lewinsky had many on the mainland bemused.

Many drew parallels between Mr Clinton's situation and that of jailed former Beijing Communist Party secretary - and alleged womaniser - Chen Xitong. Chen was recently sentenced to 16 years' jail for corruption and dereliction of duty.

In a televised court hearing in which his appeal was dismissed on Thursday, Chen's manner was defiant. He said the courts could do what they liked; he didn't care.

This contrasted with Mr Clinton's apologetic television address - which nevertheless prompted talk in the US that he had not been sufficiently contrite.

Mainlanders said it was not uncommon for politicians in China to have several mistresses, and this was not considered a political issue.

One middle-aged man said Chen had had a mistress.

'And Wang Baosen, his aide who killed himself in the neighbourhood where I live, had several mistresses. This was never a political problem,' he said.

'I know that it is wrong for people to commit adultery but they do it all the time. There's no need to apologise on national television.' A young taxi driver said it was 'really weird' that Mr Clinton had confessed to the US. 'When it comes to extra-marital relationships, who wants to tell the truth? 'It's natural to lie. People are people everywhere - and everywhere people have affairs, so I don't understand what the big deal is.' A young musician said: 'I think that it is great that Clinton apologised. No Chinese politician would do that.

'Even though it's still wrong for people to do that kind of thing, many Chinese politicians do it and not one of them will ever apologise to the Chinese people.

'No one but officials have any real human rights here.' A businessman agreed. 'Chinese officials would never explain to us about their affairs because this is not a democracy so they do not need us to vote for them.'