Protestors Disrupt Chinese Ambassador’s Speech at Harvard

‘We just got kicked out of our own university,’ said a student activist who protested Chinese ambassador Xie Feng’s speech in Harvard University on April 20.

Six people disrupted a speech by Xie Feng, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, at Harvard Kennedy School in protest of China’s human rights atrocities.

At around 8 a.m. on April 20, Mr. Xie visited the prestigious university and gave an opening address for the Kennedy School’s China Conference 2024, an annual student-run event organized by the Greater China Society.

He was greeted by dozens of protesters from various groups, including Falun Gong, Tibet, Hong Kong, Uyghur, and Taiwan, chanting slogans outside the conference hall and condemning the human rights atrocities by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“Free Hong Kong,” “Free Tibet,” and “Shame on Xi Jinping,” chanted the protesters holding umbrellas in the rain, a mix of Harvard students and local Boston residents.

Inside the hall, Mr. Xie told the audience that Beijing hopes to work with Washington so that relations can move forward on a stable, healthy, and sustainable track, but the two must jointly establish a correct understanding.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China from April 24 to 26 for a range of talks, including topics of the Middle East crisis, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the South China Sea tensions.

“China does not gamble on the United States to lose, interfere in its internal affairs, or interfere in the U.S. election, and is willing to be a partner and friend with the United States,” Mr. Xie told the conference.

“If the United States continues to interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, and the South China Sea, how can we maintain the bottom line of bilateral relations no matter how many ‘guardrails’ are set up?”

He was disrupted when protestors stood up one at a time, shouting and holding banners reading “China Lies, People Die.”

In a widely circulated video on social media, a female Taiwanese student activist from Harvard denounced Mr. Xie’s complicity in tarnishing freedom and democracy of Hong Kong, as well as extending the threat to her home country, Taiwan.

“Xie Feng, you come to paint your delusion of a ‘prosperous China’ when your hands are painted with blood. You robbed the Hongkongers of fundamental freedom and devastated their democracy. Now in my country, Taiwan, you sought to do the same,” she shouted.

In another video, a male student activist named Topjor is seen holding the Tibetan national flag and shouting, “Free Tibet! How can you be here when the Chinese government is in direct contravention of every human rights law in the world?”

“You do not deserve to be here. This is a free country … You are a shame, a stain on this institution,” he shouted before being escorted out.

Protesting Harvard Students Forced Out

A total of five protesters were escorted out after refusing to stop disrupting Mr. Xie’s talk, Steven Catalano, the spokesperson of the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD), told The Harvard Crimson, a daily college newspaper of the university.

Three of the protesters escorted out by officers were Harvard students, and HUPD intends to share the students’ names with their respective schools, according to Mr. Catalano.

A sixth protester walked out of the venue during Mr. Xie’s speech, according to Cosette Wu, the co-founder of the Coalition of Students Resisting China and the first protester to interrupt the speech.

Two of the escorted students vented their discontent.

“We just got kicked out of our own university,” they said in a video on the Instagram account of Students for a Free Tibet @ Boston.

“Right now, Xie Feng, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States is inside giving a propaganda speech. We Harvard students went in to tell him that we will not give him this undeserved platform.”

Falun Dafa Club Pressured in Harvard

David Liang, a student of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Falun Gong practitioner who was present at the event, deeply relates to the protesting student activists.

“I can see why these students chose to protest this way. The Chinese ambassador, in contrary to his speech promises of ‘promoting dialogue and praising vitality of the youth,’ did not provide any opportunities for the students to correct the misinformation he was spreading on stage or any dialogues with the attending students,” he told The Epoch Times.

“For more than two decades Falun Gong has been one of the most heavily persecuted groups in China, but due to media and governmental silence and willful blindness of the international academia, little has been talked about it and even less has been done about it.

“Even in the international society, when talking about these matters as a student group we face pressure from the regime, as our student club [Falun Dafa Club at Harvard Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences] repeatedly experienced silencing attempts from certain Harvard students and faculties with connections to the regime.”

Falun Gong practitioners protested Chinese ambassador Xie Feng's speech at Harvard Kennedy College on April 20, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners protested Chinese ambassador Xie Feng’s speech at Harvard Kennedy College on April 20, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Liang said that the CCP’s crime of forced organ harvesting, which was mentioned by the protesting Tibetan girl, “happens not only to a particular group.”

“Evil is not static. For every day we ignore its existence, it will continue to cause harm for another day. Ignoring the persecution of Falun Gong is to provide the Chinese state to refine its repressive methods against other groups.”

He said Mr. Xie’s speech was “full of blatant lies and appeared despicable,” and called him “very pathetic,” referring to his predecessor Qin Gang’s mysterious disappearance amid CCP leader Xi Jinping’s purge within the regime.

“These people were used as pawns of the regime to deceive the West; when they no longer are valuable or threaten the regime they would be sacrificed,” he said.

“We have been outspoken against the regime’s crimes, raised the awareness of this persecution, not only to save other practitioners in China from this ridiculous oppression and brutality, but also those who knew no other choice than to be subject to the evil playbook of this regime.”

The speech finished around 10:30 a.m., when protesters flocked to the school’s parking lot to protest while Mr. Xie left in his car.

Various groups protested while Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng's car left Harvard Kennedy College on April 20, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)
Various groups protested while Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng’s car left Harvard Kennedy College on April 20, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)

The Chinese Embassy in Washington and Harvard Kennedy School did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comments.

China Daily, an official mouthpiece of Beijing, reported the event in a completely different way.

“Ambassador Xie’s speech was warmly welcomed by the guests, Harvard faculty members and students present, and received rounds of applause,” according to the media outlet.


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