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Pro-Tibet protesters hang anti-China banner at Moscone Center ahead of APEC

A sign reading "Dictator Xi Jinping Your Time Is Up! Free Tibet" hangs from Moscone Center.
Pro-Tibet protesters on Friday hung a sign on San Francisco’s Moscone Center denouncing Chinese President Xi Jinping. | Source: Courtesy of Students for a Free Tibet

Pro-Tibet protesters on Friday hung a sign from the roof of San Francisco’s Moscone Center denouncing Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. 

The banner, which briefly appeared above the entrance to Moscone North, went up around noon Friday. The group Students for a Free Tibet claimed that three of its activists were behind the incident.

The banner read: “Dictator Xi Jinping, Your Time is Up! Free Tibet.”

A woman working at Moscone Center, who refused to give her name, told The Standard she witnessed the incident and said the activists yelled “Free Tibet” for about a minute before apparently taking down the banner of their own accord. 

No activists were detained by police.

“I don't think anyone had a chance to even contact them," said an officer near Moscone Center. “It was there for two minutes, as soon as we saw it, they rolled it up."

Tenzin Namgyal, a 17 year-old Tibetan-American activist who was part of the unfurling, said that the group is hoping President Biden speaks out against Tibetan assimilation.

“Since China’s President Xi last visited the U.S. Tibetans have witnessed our language, religion and culture come under direct attack from Xi’s genocidal policies and we are facing the elimination of our distinct Tibetan language, culture and identity, if the world doesn’t act," Namgyal said.

The APEC summit, starting Saturday, will bring together Xi, President Joe Biden and leaders of other countries, including Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Protesters and activists concerned about climate change, trade policy, the Israel-Hamas war and other international issues are planning multiple demonstrations during the summit, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to San Francisco, including a large contingent of international media.

The Secret Service is imposing a security zone around Moscone Center starting Saturday, limiting pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area.

Howard Street at Third Street and Fourth Street at Mission Street were blocked Friday afternoon because barriers are being stored in the area ahead of the summit, according to Nate Herring, spokesperson for the United States Secret Service.

Herring said people should expect some traffic and lane closures ahead of and during the installation of barricades around Moscone Center and near the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill. The barriers will be installed overnight between Nov. 14 and Nov. 15.

Students for a Free Tibet advocates for Tibet’s independence from China, arguing that the region has historically been an independent country. China maintains that Tibet is an inalienable part of its territory.  

READ MORE: See Security, Traffic, Transit Maps for APEC

U.S., Chinese Officials Meet Friday

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met in San Francisco on Friday with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng. Yellen said she and her Chinese counterpart agreed to work toward a “healthy economic relationship,” during two days of talks that she said helped lay the groundwork for a productive meeting next week between Biden and Xi.

Yellen said many disagreements remain between the two countries, but she and He committed to working together “on global challenges, from debt issues to climate change-related economic issues.”

And both countries, she said, “welcome the objective of a healthy economic relationship that provides a level playing field for companies and workers in both countries and benefits the two peoples.”

Biden and Xi will meet Wednesday, the first engagement in a year between the leaders of the world's two biggest economies.

Their finance chiefs held talks in San Francisco this week with the aim of making progress on a slew of economic and trade issues at a time when competition has markedly intensified between their countries.

Yellen has met with a host of Chinese officials throughout this year.

Correction: Activists accessed the roof of Moscone via a publicly accessible pedestrian walkway.

Standard reporters Joshua Bote, Joel Umanzor and Noah Baustin, along with Associated Press, contributed to this report.