Story and photos by David Jonas Bardin
People exiting the Van Ness-UDC MetroRail escalator last Sunday asked me, “Where is the Chinese Embassy?” They were gathering for a demonstration.
Curious, I went along as they went up Van Ness Street and turned onto International Place. A converging crowd was carrying flags and banners up the hill toward the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, in the State Department’s International Chancery Center across from UDC.
Most flags were Vietnamese or American. I also spotted the flags of California, Canada, Ohio and Texas.
Protester Thai Pham, a Virginian, told me that Vietnamese-Americans had come from all over North America – including New York, Boston, Toronto, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles – to protest bullying of others by China. I saw banners from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.
A Secret Service agent estimated 500 to 1,000 people were in the crowd. Speeches in Vietnamese were made at a podium in front of the State Department’s International Chancery Center office building.
The rally ended with a parade from International Place to Van Ness Street and waiting buses. I took photos and the following video of the parade from the elevated park at center of the Chancery Center.
A press release ahead of the event provided more context, as well as a Maryland contact, Mr. Trinh Nguyenmau, who reported participation at slightly over 1,000.
He explained that after opening at Van Ness with a morning rally, the crowd went downtown to demonstrate at the “Hanoi” Embassy (of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) and then gathered in Freedom Plaza in the afternoon for songs and speeches. (The Saigon Broadcasting Television Network in California organized that concert.) Several protesters also went to the White House to collect signatures on a petition urging President Obama and other elected officials for firmer resistance to repeated Chinese encroachments by land and sea.