Skip to main content

China investigating protesters' hassling of U.S. ambassador's car

By Steven Jiang and Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 10:04 PM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. says it has expressed concern to the Chinese authorities
  • China says it is investigating what it describes as an "isolated case"
  • About 50 protesters gathered around the car, some throwing objects
  • The incident took place amid anti-Japanese protests in China

Beijing (CNN) -- The Chinese authorities are investigating an incident in which dozens of angry protesters surrounded the car of U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke in a Beijing street, some throwing objects at the vehicle before security forces intervened to protect it.

The United States has expressed concern to China about the unusual disturbance on Tuesday, which comes at a sensitive time for American diplomats following the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack in Libya last week.

The harassment of Locke's black Cadillac took place as anti-Japanese demonstrators marched in numerous Chinese cities amid tensions between the two Asian countries over a disputed group of islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Chinese outrage over islands troubles Japanese public

"Our mission is located very close to the Japanese mission, and there were some chantings of slogans with regard to the Senkaku Islands," Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday at a regular news conference. "So our preliminary assessment is that it was related to that issue and not to the issues in the Middle East."

Panetta visits amid China-Japan dispute
Anti-Japanese protests rage in China

She said China has expressed "regret" over the incident, which caused "minor damage" to the car and left Locke unharmed.

A video of the events uploaded Wednesday to the dissident artist Ai WeiWei's channel on YouTube shows about 50 protesters, some of them carrying Chinese flags, gathering around Locke's car as it tries to enter the embassy compound.

A few of the demonstrators are seen hurling objects at the front of the vehicle before uniformed security officers manage to shield the car, enabling it to drive a short distance up the street and enter the compound through a different gate.

The incident was an "isolated case," Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said Wednesday at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

"Relevant Chinese authorities are investigating and will handle the result properly," he said.

The long-running dispute between China and Japan over the islands -- situated between Okinawa and Taiwan in the East China Sea -- has escalated in the past two weeks after the Japanese government announced the acquisition of several of the islands from a private Japanese owner.

China declared the purchase illegal and has sent patrol vessels into the waters around the islands, drawing protest from the Japanese government.

The Chinese authorities also allowed the anti-Japanese protests to take place over several days. Some of the demonstrations turned violent, causing damage to Japanese businesses and prompting some companies to temporarily suspend operations.

The United States, a key ally of Japan, has refused to take sides on the competing sovereignty claims over the islands.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who met with senior officials in both Tokyo and Bejing in recent days, has urged the two countries to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations.

Dangerous Rocks: Can both sides back off peacefully?

CNN's Steven Jiang reported from Beijing; Jethro Mullen from Hong Kong. CY Xu and Stan Grant also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
updated 5:39 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
It'd be hard to find another country that has spent as much, and as furiously, as China on giving its next generation a head start.
updated 12:32 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
updated 3:14 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
updated 10:38 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
updated 3:26 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
updated 12:51 AM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
updated 9:19 PM EST, Sun November 2, 2014
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
updated 9:55 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
updated 12:00 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
ADVERTISEMENT