Tibet activists and pro-China supporters demonstrate at APEC summit
by AFP Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Nov 16, 2023
Groups of Tibet activists and pro-China supporters staged opposing demonstrations in San Francisco on Wednesday as Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the city for an APEC summit.
A protest organized by the city’s Tibetan diaspora was held outside the hotel where US business leaders attended a dinner with Xi, whom they accuse of human rights violations in Tibet.
The protest was met by a counter-demonstration of pro-China supporters waving the country’s flag, while police separated the two groups with fencing.
Xi met with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday before the dinner, their first tete-a-tete in a year, in which the two countries agreed to restore military communications.
“US CEOs… are hosting President Xi Jinping, the guy who’s responsible for millions of deaths. Tibetans, Hongkongers, even Chinese people themselves — he’s killing them,” said Chemi Lhamo, a member of the Students for a Free Tibet organization, outside the hotel.
The demonstration drew around 1,000 people in the morning, with some stepping on the Chinese flag and dancing on it.
One protester climbed up a flagpole outside the hotel to wave the Tibetan flag.
“We are going to force Xi Jinping to see the Tibetan flag. That Tibetan flag is illegal inside our own home country, inside Tibet,” Lhamo said.
“Tibetans cannot speak Tibetan. Tibetans cannot hold the Tibetan flag.”
“We came because we want freedom… in Hong Kong,” said Stanley Tang, of the US Hongkongers Club.
“We cannot do everything over there, and we want to express ourselves,” he added. “We want Xi Jinping to know we want freedom.”
AFP tried to speak to several Xi supporters, but they declined to comment.
China has administered Tibet since the 1950s.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, has raised global awareness of the region.
The United States imposed visa sanctions on Chinese officials in August for pursuing the “forced assimilation” of children in Tibet, where UN experts say one million children have been separated from their families.
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