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New Zealand Lawmaker Clashes with Chinese Delegation

  • VOA News

A New Zealand lawmaker waving a Tibetan flag says he was confronted by members of a delegation traveling with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Wellington Friday.

Russel Norman, a co-leader of the minority Green Party, says he was calling for democracy for Tibet when Mr. Xi and his delegation arrived at New Zealand's parliament for talks with officials.

Norman says some people in the delegation tried to put an umbrella in front of him, then snatched the Tibetan flag from his hands. Some of those involved have been identified as security guards.

The lawmaker said it was outrageous that Chinese security guards could "push around" an elected member of parliament standing up for freedom and democracy in his own country. He says he has filed a formal complaint with local police.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told reporters the incident would be investigated, but supported Norman's right to protest. Mr. Key called the incident disappointing, because it has marred an otherwise successful visit by Mr. Xi.

The vice-president, who is believed to be President Hu Jintao's heir apparent, is in New Zealand accompanied by hundreds of business executives. It is the third stop of a four-nation tour that has taken Mr. Xi to Bangladesh and Laos.

He travels to Australia Saturday.

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