Hundreds of supporters and protesters were on hand to welcome Xi Jinping to Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday for his Mar-a-Lago summit with Donald Trump. Of course, some were more welcoming than others.
Five protesters were arrested for obstruction or resisting arrest as the Chinese president’s motorcade made its way from the airport to his room at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan, the Palm Beach Post reports. At least three of these protesters tried to jump in front of Xi’s car, but were tackled by police.
As usual when Xi travels abroad, a diverse range of protesters lined the motorway to express their opposition to the Chinese government. Some held up signs proclaiming: “Free Tibet now,” “Falun Dafa is good,” “the Chinese communist party is gangsters, mafia and evil,” or, most simply, “Xi Jinping Suck!”
One of those protesters on hand was Li Huanjun, a human rights activist who fled to Washington to 2015 after being arrested in Beijing two years earlier. She told the Palm Beach Post that she had stood in front of Xi’s car before, and planned to do it again.
However, the protesters were outnumbered by Chinese government supporters who lined the motorway dressed in red, waving both Chinese and American flags to greet Xi.
Chinese supporters at Palm Beach airport ahead of Xi Jinping's arrival. pic.twitter.com/d2eFGKJOGz
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) April 6, 2017
“For us, it’s very exciting and we’re really looking forward to see our president. We love our country,” Winnie Xing, who moved from Shenyang to Fort Lauderdale 15 years ago, told the paper.
Along with Chinese supporters and protesters, hundreds of Vietnamese nationals also made an appearance to protest against China’s “bullying” of their country, holding up signs demanding that Xi return some disputed South China Sea Islands to Vietnam.
Chinese protesters line up outside Southdale Plaza along Trump's route to Mar-a-Lago. pic.twitter.com/AVruvmTQHd
— Jane Smith (@ExtraStepBlog) April 6, 2017
The Vietnamese protesters later came into conflict with a group of Chinese supporters:
About 10 a.m., hundreds of Vietnamese nationals had begun gathering in front of the Publix on Southern Boulevard west of Dixie Highway; they later marched east, stopping on Flagler Drive. About 11 a.m., nearly 40 Xi supporters arrived, sparking shouting and jostling. One Vietnamese woman stood inches from Chinese supporters, using a megaphone to shout “Red China, go to hell,” and remarks far stronger. At one point, Vietnamese protesters brought in a loudspeaker in an attempt to drown out the Chinese.
Tien Nguyen, of Tampa, who escaped from Vietnam by boat when he was 15, said he was upset to see the “Chinese sympathizers.” He said his father, a former South Vietnamese soldier, was imprisoned by the North Vietnamese, and seeing the flag of their ally, China, “brings back a lot of bad memories.”
Tensions were obviously running high with other clashes breaking out between Chinese supporters and protesters:
— Erica Rakow (@EricaRakow) April 6, 2017
Check out all the fun below:
[Images via China News / Palm Beach Post]
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