Protests target Obama-Xi talks in California desert

Protesters for the Tibetan cause carry flags and placards

Protesters for the Tibetan cause carry flags and placards while shouting slogans in a cordoned off protest zone across from where US President Barack Obama is due to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the California desert community of Rancho Mirage, California, on 7 June 2013. AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J Brown


RANCHO MIRAGE, US, 8 June 2013

A few hundred protesters gathered Friday outside the desert oasis where President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping were to hold talks.

Up to 200 Falun Gong members and around 50 Tibetans gathered outside the Sunnylands estate, where security was tight ahead of two days of talks in the Californian desert.

“China get out of Tibet,” the pro-Tibet protesters chanted during a brief march for the cameras. One protester was wearing a giant head resembling the Chinese leader.

Organisers said they expected more protesters to turn up later in the day, ahead of a planned candle-lit vigil in the evening. Vietnamese protesters were also awaiting the leaders’ arrival.

Some of the Tibetans prayed, while Falun Gong protesters did exercises as they waited behind police barricades, at a spot where they were likely to see Obama as he drove into the secluded estate.

One Falun Gong organiser, Vicky Jiang, said they wanted Obama to press Xi over alleged persecution of the religious group.

“We would like (Obama) to consider human rights in his conversations with President Xi and put that on the table,” she said.

The Chinese leader arrived Thursday evening and stayed in a nearby hotel, according to the local Desert Sun newspaper, ahead of what was planned as an unusually relaxed US-China summit.

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