ACT News


Chinese protesters mix with supporters as President Xi Jinping visits Parliament House

Barricades separated Chinese government supporters from rowdy protesters outside Parliament House as President Xi Jinping delivered an historic address to federal politicians on Monday. 

President Xi became only the second Chinese president to speak before the Australian Parliament during his visit to Canberra.

Crowds gathered outside Parliament House, and also around the Chinese embassy and Hyatt Hotel in Yarralumla, from the early hours of the morning.

The leader's visit to the capital drew hundreds of Chinese government backers, who mingled with hundreds of objectors who used the visit to hold a series of peaceful political demonstrations.

More than 300 businessmen and other supporters from Sydney were among those who travelled from interstate hoping to get a glimpse of the president.

They were joined outside the hotel by Chinese residents and university students from Canberra.


One supporter, who travelled from Sydney for the presidential visit, said he was there to see the leader because "I'm Chinese". 

"It's very important," he said.

Falun Dafa supporters played meditation music in an effort to drown out pro-Communist songs which rang loudly in the air as supporters gathered at the edge of Lennox Gardens amid a heavy police presence.

Protesters held up signs along Commonwealth Avenue, the streets surrounding the hotel and at the entrances to Parliament House.

Police lined the streets to minimise any friction between the two groups. 

Officers near the hotel said while they witnessed some in-depth and heated political discussions between crowd members of different views, the gathering was relatively uneventful. 

Opponents were far more vocal on the lawns in front of Parliament House, particularly as President Xi arrived at the landmark. 

Falun Dafa Association Australia spokesman John Deller said Falun Gong practitioners were joined by Vietnamese community members, pro-Tibetan protesters and East Turkestan independence movement supporters on their side of the fence.

"We are here to ask President Xi Jinping to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and to stop organ harvesting," Mr Deller said. 

As President Xi Jinping addressed the joint sitting of parliament inside, members of the Vietnamese community waved flags and signs and used megaphones to chant:

"Shame, shame, Xi Jinping.

"Shame, shame, China, shame."

They also loudly condemned the free trade agreement reached between the president and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

On the other side of the barricade, those who attended to show their support for the nation's leader waved Chinese and Australian flags and occasionally banged on drums.

 Australian Fuqing Association permanent general advisor Grace Chen said pro-China crowds had turned out to welcome the president.

"We have been in Australia for decades as law-abiding citizens," Professor Chen said.

"We love Australia as our homeland while we don't forget where we came from."

"President Xi is a positive element to Australia and China and we believe that this G20 summit will bring peace and prosperity to the world."

Police confirmed they arrested a 17-year-old man, believed to be a protester, over an assault on a young woman who was part of the pro-China crowd, outside Parliament House on Monday afternoon.

He was taken to the ACT Watch House.

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said the crowds were otherwise well-behaved.

Police expected thousands to descend on the capital during the president's visit, which follows the G20 summit in Brisbane at the weekend. 

They declined to comment on how many local police were part of the operation. 

Visitors began to arrive yesterday and most people who travelled from interstate were expected to leave on Monday night. 

Mr Abbott, President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan visited Government House earlier on Monday, where they were greeted by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove. 

Both leaders are set to travel to Tasmania later this week, with industry groups hoping the trip will boost trade and investment opportunities with China.