STUDENTS invoking United States political symbols and ideals in a struggle for democracy expressed disappointment yesterday at the failure of Washington to strongly punish Beijing for the brutal suppression of their movement. Students at the University of Politics and Law, who have seen soldiers gun down hundreds of their unarmed peers, called for economic sanctions against China's communist government. The undergraduates at one of Beijing's most politically active campuses denounced a statement by President Bush Monday that, while condemning China's crackdown, merely broke military links.
``You'd think at the very least the country that claims to be the beacon for democracy would cut economic ties - Bush didn't even recall the Ambassador,'' a student said on condition of anonymity.
Throughout seven weeks of demonstrations, Beijing students raised the icons, ideals, and battle cries of American democracy. Many students, while acknowledging the vast cultural and historical differences between China and the US, pointed to the US political system as their cynosure.
``Give me democracy or give me death,'' said one banner hung over Tiananmen Square as students staged a hunger strike last month that provoked an outpouring of support from more than 1 million Beijing residents.
During a sit-in last week, students unveiled a 30-foot sculpture of a robed woman raising a torch before the huge portrait of Mao Zedong that overlooks the square. They dubbed the figure ``the goddess of democracy.'' An armored personnel carrier Sunday plowed down the statue as thousands of soldiers fired on unarmed students and citizens demonstrating for democratic reform and clean government. Hospital workers estimate that from 500 to several thousand protesters were killed in the military rampage.
In response, the Bush administration announced that it woulddiscontinue arms sales to China, which have totaled $748 million since the normalization of Sino-US ties a decade ago.