Oct 19, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in UK amid security fears over human rights protests

Fiona Keating
International Business Times
October 19, 2015

The Communist leader Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrived at Heathrow Airport where they were met by Viscount Hood on behalf of the Queen. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also joined the welcome party.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was looking forward to forging better links between the UK and China. Thanking Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for meeting him at London's Heathrow Airport, Xi said: "I understand that the British side has already made a lot of preparation for the visit."

Highlights of the trip include travelling in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace to lunch with Queen Elizabeth, giving a speech at the Palace of Westminster, attending a state banquet and a trip to Manchester City Football Club, according to an itinerary released by Buckingham Palace.

But Prince Charles has chosen not to attend the official banquet in Xi's honour, a white-tie affair at Buckingham Palace. The prince has not disclosed the reasons for missing the banquet on Tuesday night, but he is known to be close to the Dalai Lama.

Amnesty International and other groups concerned with human rights issues in China are expected to protest in St James' Park on Tuesday (20 October) as well as pro-China groups. Other organisations include those representing China's ethnic Uighur population. "It is very unfortunate that they are welcoming President Xi by the red carpet," Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, told reporters while on a visit to Tokyo.

"They should know that in that red carpet is the blood of the Uighur people, Tibet and other Chinese dissidents." Also at the protests will be Shao Jiang, who was involved in the Chinese student movements during the 80s and during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

"From my experience of policing in Britain, there has been a problem. For example, human rights protesters have been told that they cannot use megaphones, but they have allowed Chinese pro-government groups to use drums," he told The Guardian.

"We also remember when the Olympic torch was making its way through the streets of the UK ahead of China hosting the games. Protesters were kettled by police, and yet supporters of China were allowed to walk freely."

Scotland Yard said in a statement on Monday (10 October) that it has been preparing for the Chinese state visit for over five months. It added: "We have been engaging with a variety of groups that have stated their intention to demonstrate during the visit of the Chinese president.

"Where there are demonstrations, officers from the Police Liaison Team will be on the ground to engage with protestors. An appropriate policing plan will be in place throughout the duration of the visit."

It added that a planned demonstration and a counter demonstration are due to take place near the George VI memorial in St James's Park, between 11am and 1pm on Tuesday. Also expected to protest are Falun Gong supporters, the spiritual sect banned by China in 1999 as a cult which has suffered hardline state repression.

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