Skip to main content

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

By Steven Jiang and Jethro Mullen, CNN
September 21, 2012 -- Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT)
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
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 0511 GMT (1311 HKT)
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
ADVERTISEMENT