Jiang screened from university protesters

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The Independent Online

Chinese President Jiang Zemin was given a noisy welcome by human rights activists today when he arrived in Cambridge for the last day of his state visit to Britain.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin was given a noisy welcome by human rights activists today when he arrived in Cambridge for the last day of his state visit to Britain.

But police ensured that most of the protesters were screened from his view by strategically parking three of their vans in front of the demonstration a few minutes before he arrived at the university library.

Protesters, who have been angered by the Metropolitan Police's heavy-handed approach during President Jiang's visit to London, said they were disappointed to see local officers employing such tactics.

And a spokeswoman for Cambridge University said it was a "shame" that the protesters had not been allowed to make their point as they wanted to.

Scores of protesters objecting to China's policy on Taiwan and Tibet had gathered about 30 minutes before President Jiang arrived.

When the police vans were parked in front of them, some climbed trees and unfurled Tibetan flags in an attempt to get their point across.

Others vented their anger towards the police, with one man shouting: "Shame on the British police."

Alison Reynolds, director of the Free Tibet Campaign said: "This is what they have been doing in London all week. We had hoped things would be different here.

"They seem to have strategically placed the vans in front of the demonstrators. Yet there doesn't seem to be any threat to public order.

"The students who had organised the demonstration had spoken to the police in advance and everything was very amicable."

Yesterday Cambridgeshire police said their police was to allow peaceful protests wherever possible.

A spokeswoman for the police said today she could not comment on the latest development until she had spoken to senior officers in charge of the visit.

Extra police were on duty in Cambridge and a heavy cordon surrounded the protesters.

There were also several members of the Chinese security forces on hand.

Shortly before President Jiang was scheduled to arrive at the library, police parked three white Transit vans in front of where the protesters were gathered in an apparently deliberate attempt to screen them from the President.

The move provoked anger from demonstrators, who yelled: "Shame on the British police."

A spokeswoman for the Free Tibet campaign said: "Unfortunately this has been all too common a tactic by the police this week."

President Jiang was visiting the library's East Asian reading room and meeting members of the faculty of Oriental Studies.

Later he was giving a lecture to members of the faculty and meeting senior officials from the University, which already has strong links with China. Several hundred Chinese students are studying in Cambridge.

Many of those students were waiting alongside demonstrators today carrying banners welcoming President Jiang to the city.

Dignitaries also in Cambridge for the visit included former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.

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