03/29/2016, 13.30
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Prague: confrontations and protests by pro-Tibet groups during Xi Jinping’s visit

Xi is the first Chinese president to visit the Czech Republic, which for decades backed the Dalai Lama and Taiwanese independence. His visit is expected to bring US.4 billion in investment. Protesters replaced China’s red flags with those of the ancient Buddhist temple, and chain themselves to lampposts.

Prague (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Dozens of Czech pro-Tibet demonstrators staged a welcome reception for Chinese President Xi Jinping by replacing mainland China’s flags with those of the ancient Buddhist kingdom and by chaining themselves to lampposts.

At a park near the airport, demonstrators put up a giant picture of the Dalai Lama with the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, a former dissident and human rights activist, with the words, “These gentlemen are at home here.”

However, shortly before the Chinese leader landed in the Czech capital, police removed the Tibetan flags and arrested 12 demonstrators.

Protesters also clashed violently with groups defending Czech President Milos Zeman’s pro-China policies.

Xi is the first Chinese president to visit the Czech Republic. The latter used to be a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause and even Taiwanese independence.

Xi’s two-day trip is expected to bring US.4 billion in investment to the central European country.

This includes funding for a European international canal linking the rivers Danube, Oder and Elbe as well as investments in local infrastructure and telecommunications.

Zeman will host Xi at the presidential residences of Prague Castle and Lány chateau, which has never been opened to foreign dignitaries.

The honour drew protests from critics who compare it to the kind of welcome extended to Soviet leaders from satellite states.

Critics also noted that the Czech president was the only European leader to participate in the solemn ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

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