A group of Chinese students from the University of Iowa rolled into Muscatine in two large buses, preparing to wave flags and banners to greet their country’s future leader.
They weren’t prepared for what they would face there- a vocal protest from a group of native Tibetans.
“You are preparing to welcome a criminal into your suburbs,” yelled one member of the group.
The Chinese students appeared stunned. Demonstrations like this would never be allowed in China, one student said. Another refused to appear on television cameras, saying he feared “it could be bad for (him)”.
Still, the students answered back by singing their country’s national anthem and declaring, “We love China”.
It was a face-off on the street near the site of the home hosting Xi Jinping. The students considered it a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of Xi, while protesters voiced opposition to inviting a man they believe is a dictator into the country.
Meanwhile, people from the Quad Cities say they had no idea an international debate would play out here.
“I had no idea there would be so much passion,” a Muscatine resident said. “There’s just so much emotion around this.”
Xi’s motorcade changed it’s route, likely because of the protests, and never came near the protest site. The Chinese Vice President came and left with virtually no one on the street realizing it.