President Barack Obama welcomed China’s vice president Xi Jinping to the White House Tuesday, as hundreds of protesters gathered just outside the windows from where the two met.
The protesters’ signs were not Valentine’s Day love notes. “Tibet will be free” and “Tibet is not a part of China” signs were the most popular. (RELATED: More stories on China)
Protesters marched peacefully with flags from Tibet and the autonomous Uyghur region of China, all in protest of the man many believe will be the next leader of China.
Tibet and the Uyghur people have long been a source of political tension with China and the rest of the world over human rights violations. .
Tibet has presented an unusually stark case of Chinese civil unrest, with advocates claiming systematic and repeated human rights violations beginning with a brief military conflict and China’s annexation in 1951.
According to the Tibetan Association of Charlottesville, 23 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest of Chinese oppression since February 2009, drawing international attention to their life under Chinese rule.
“[Tibetans have] no rights to speak of political issues,” protester Tsering Dicky told The Daily Caller during the Tuesday protest.
Dicky said she and other protesters hope the global community intervenes with China on behalf of Tibetans. “We always hope for the best, that’s why we’re here,” she explained.
Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet, told TheDC, “we are here to amplify their voices and to send a message to President Obama that he should use this opportunity to raise the issue of Tibet strongly and vigorously with Xi Jinping … and in fact as leader of this free and democratic country he should use his influence and authority to impress upon Xi that so long as Tibet remains oppressed and occupied the Chinese government will never never truly be accepted by the international community.”
During a joint press availability with the Chinese vice president, Obama emphasized that “because of China’s extraordinary development over the last two decades … with expanding power and prosperity also comes increased responsibilities.”
Videography by Grae Stafford