Crowds at L.A. Live greet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping
As Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping began a morning of meetings Friday with Vice President Joe Biden and Los Angeles leaders and businesspeople, hundreds of protesters and supporters gathered across the street from the J.W. Marriott hotel at L.A. Live.
A group of about 200 students from USC's Chinese Scholars Student Assn. stretched along the sidewalk, waving large Chinese flags with one hand and holding American flags in the other.
"We've been here since about 7 a.m.," said Daniel Wu, a doctoral student studying computer science at USC. " We're happy to see our vice president and America working together."
Graduate student Shelley Xue, also dressed in a matching red-and-gold Trojans sweatshirt, arranged for five buses to bring everyone to downtown L.A., where Jinping was attending an economic forum. "Because we're overseas, we do miss our home," she said. "When a leader is here, it helps me think back to my native country and feel their love."
This "young generation is very promising, well-educated," said John Chen, a leader of the welcome committee formed by the region's Chinese American community. The committee had given them the flags, he said, as he rallied the students to begin singing patriotic songs. Dancers dressed in traditional lion costumes prepared to perform in the two parking lots across from the hotel, which the committee had rented for two days.
A few feet away, about 100 supporters of the outlawed spiritual group Falun Gong silently held banners and meditated.
"We came here yesterday morning, and stayed overnight," said Theresa Kao, who came with 42 people from San Francisco to stand with Falun Gong practitioners this week in L.A. They were the only group to stay overnight and had occupied the entire length of the block, but the "police said we had to give them [the USC students] half of the space," she said, shrugging.
"Xi Jinping is possibly the next leader in China, and we want him to know," she said. "And we want more people to know about this situation in China."
Protestors chanting "Free Tibet" and waving flags and posters also peacefully shared the space.
"Everyone's here for the same purpose; there's no conflict with all the groups here" said Dhonam Pemba, vice president of the Tibetan Assn. of Southern California. "We want to give Xi Jinping a message because he's here right now. We want change; we want to be proud of our country."
"We know that he's meeting with Joe Biden," said Tso Kyi from San Francisco Team Tibet, "and we want our world leaders to publicly take a stand. We'll be here all day."
Xi Jinping will conclude his U.S tour Friday afternoon and is scheduled to attend a Lakers game Friday evening.
-- Rosanna Xia in downtown Los Angeles
Photo: Crowds at L.A. Live greet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. Credit: Rosanna Xia