"We understand free speech," Lake Wang, 39, told the Los Angeles Times. "But what if Cafferty said this about other racial groups? I think he would be fired. I think he's jealous of China."
A crowd estimated by police at 2,000 to 5,000 gathered, chanting and holding signs that read "Fire Cafferty" and "CNN: Chinese Negative News." The crowd was peaceful, and no arrests were made, police Sgt. David Torres said.
Another two dozen people holding Chinese flags also demonstrated outside CNN's corporate headquarters in Atlanta.
Cafferty made the comments during an appearance on "The Situation Room" that aired April 9.
Speaking about the U.S. trade deficit with China, Cafferty said: "We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart."
"So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed," he continued. "I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."
A call Saturday seeking comment from CNN representatives was not immediately returned, but both Cafferty and a network statement earlier in the week stressed that the remarks were aimed at the Chinese government, not its people. CNN said it apologized to anyone who thought otherwise.
China on Thursday snubbed CNN's apology. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the CNN statement lacked sincerity and instead "turned its attack on the Chinese government to try to sow division between the Chinese government and the people."
China has been under scrutiny as it prepares to host the Olympics in August. Criticism of its human rights record and unrest in Tibet have received widespread coverage, leading Chinese leaders to accuse Western media of smearing the country.
A wave of verbal assaults on foreign media has raised concerns about media controls at the Olympics. CNN has been singled out by the Chinese government, and activists have phoned and e-mailed death threats to Western reporters.