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Lawmaker demands investigation of China-sponsored violence during San Francisco APEC summit protest

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(, Dec13’23) – The assault on protesters, including Tibetans, by pro-Beijing counter-demonstrators and the police inaction during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in San Francisco in the middle of last month smacked of orders “from above” and must be investigated, Dec 12 cited Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who serves as a co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), as saying. 

Speaking at a media event organized Dec 12 by the CECC, Smith has said that he believed police on the scene were acting on orders “from above” and said an investigation was warranted.

Referring to assault on pro-democracy Chinese and Hong Kong activists, as well as Tibetans and Uyghurs from Xinjiang and other protesters by pro-Beijing elements in an orchestrated manner, Smith has said: “These claims, as well as the non-responsiveness of the San Francisco Police Department … must be investigated, as this marks an escalation of flagrant transnational repression on United States soil.”

The report cited activists and Smith as saying China’s embassy and consulates in the United States bused hundreds of pro-Beijing counter-protesters to San Francisco during the APEC summit to violently suppress demonstrations against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit.

The activists have said that in many cases, the San Francisco Police Department stood idly by while the assaults were occurring.

The activists have said the pro-Beijing counter-protesters constantly harassed them and even assaulted them during Xi’s four-day visit to the city.

The meeting between Xi and President Joe Biden on the summit’s sidelines was promoted as a chance for warmer US-China ties.

 “It was a well-organized and well-coordinated assault,” Kaiyu Zhang, who had fled from China to the United States earlier this year to escape political persecution, has said.

“The groups of thugs were wearing red headbands and red scarves to identify fellow thug members, and to coordinate with each other.”

He was followed by about “a dozen young Chinese men”, thrown to the ground, and beaten by them. He lost consciousness after another group of men joined them in the assault.

The activists have spoken of the pervasiveness of the harassment.

Pema Doma, the executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, has estimated that about two dozen young Tibetan-Americans were assaulted by the pro-CCP counter-protesters during APEC.

She has said the “thugs” appeared to be targeting young protesters – including following them home on the subway from protests – in order to scare the groups into disbanding or ending the anti-Xi protests.

“Chinese CCP agents were targeting individuals and picking them off from the group as if they were prey,” she has said. “I was very proud that night when the student activists, some of them as young as 16 … decided they will stay at the protest regardless of the threats.”

She has spoken of having noticed the counter-protesters working together to use large Chinese flags both as weapons – leveraging the poles to beat their targets – as well as covers to hide their violent activities from nearby police.

She has spoken of an incident in which police refused to act when a Tibetan mother alerted them to her son being beaten about 50 feet away as the incident was being obscured by the flags. They told her, “We cannot go there.”

The report also said an RFA reporters had witnessed a separate incident where a protester outside the Chinese president’s downtown hotel was surrounded by a group bearing large flags before being thrown to the ground and stomped on as police stood nearby.

Zhou Fengsuo, a survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre who helped organize the APEC protests against Xi, has said the pro-Beijing “protester groups were flown from as far as New York City, with some well-known CCP supporters leading the charge.”

“They directed these people to use flag posts to cover the protesters and to attack these protesters. They identify themselves with red scarves.”


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