(TibetanReview.net, Nov17’23) – Chinese supporters had clashed with Tibet protesters outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in San Francisco as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived for the Nov 15-17 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference of 21 member-countries.
Almost a thousand demonstrators from both sides chanted, waved flags, shouted at each other, and occasionally came to blows by the time Xi reached the hotel, making it the largest protest yet to be held at the APEC meeting, according to local media reports.
There were scuffles “throughout the day” on Nov 15 as the respective groups of demonstrators assembled. The police intervened to separate the groups a few times after people shoved each other and trampled on each other’s flags. Barricades were eventually set up to control the crowd, reported sfchronicle.com Nov 15.
“Pro-China protesters blared communist hymns and anthems over loudspeakers, attempting to down out chants of ‘Free Tibet’ and ‘F**k Xi Jinping.’ One person climbed to the top of a flag pole outside of the hotel to hold a flag of Tibet,” the report said.
The AFP quoted Chemi Lhamo of Students for a Free Tibet as saying the flagpole climber’s mission was to “force Xi Jinping to see the Tibetan flag,” which remains outlawed in Chinese occupied Tibet.
“Tibetans cannot speak Tibetan. Tibetans cannot hold the Tibetan flag,” she was further quoted as saying.
Calling Xi a “guy who is responsible for millions of deaths,” she has added, “Tibetans, Hongkongers, even Chinese people themselves – he’s killing them.”
The flagpole climber, a 20-year-old student named Tsela, gave a statement after she descended that said Xi is facing “serious internal challenges to his power,” so the time is right for activists to demand “a new era of freedom for all people suffering under the Chinese Communist Party’s rule,” the report said.
“Under Xi’s rule we have witnessed the establishment of a residential school system that has ripped one million Tibetan children from their families, and the mass collection of DNA from Tibetan monks, nuns, and children,” Tsela has said, referring to the acculturation “boarding school” system China recently imposed in Tibet.
AFP said it tried to speak to several Xi supporters, but they declined to comment.