Supporters brave all weathers to welcome Chinese Premier

March 31, 2017

Supporters brave all weathers to welcome Chinese Premier

Members of the Chinese community gathered on both sides of Symonds Street. Photo: Elizabeth De Jonge

Hundreds of people, mostly Chinese migrants, gathered in Auckland to show their loyalty to visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Large red banners reading “welcome” were draped up and down a section of Symonds Street outside the Langham Hotel, where the Premier stayed while in Auckland.

More than a dozen Chinese associations from across Auckland set up on Monday morning and packed up when Premier Li Keqiang left New Zealand on Wednesday.

“We are here because we want to show Li Keqiang that even though we are no longer Chinese citizens, we love our motherland and the Chinese Communist Party dearly,” said Zhao Ting, a member of the Shanghai Association of New Zealand.

“It’s a great honour for us that he’s come to New Zealand. He’s done so many great things for the Chinese people, and this visit is important.”

Chinese community groups from Panmure, New Lynn and Pakuranga were present with a rotating schedule for members to show their constant support. Even heavy rain on Wednesday did not keep them away.

Apart from organised groups, many individuals also attended and waited patiently for a glimpse of the second most powerful political figure in China.

Charles Luo made the trip from Hamilton early on Tuesday morning with his 74-year-old mother, who was excited to be amidst the action and excitement.

“We made the trip here because we want to see our Chinese leader. It’s a huge deal, especially for the older generations, and just because it’s a lot of fun. Everyone here is so happy and excited.

“It feels like a festival,” said Mr Luo.

Members of the controversial spiritual movement Falun Gong were present on Wednesday protesting against the Chinese government.

More than 40 security guards were hired by the Chinese Embassy to make sure all ran smoothly.

“The crowds have been really good, really excited to welcome the Premier and we’ve had no problems so far,” said Jack Yao, a member of the security team.

The Chinese Premier’s three-day visit to NZ marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.

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