China Probing Protest Outside U.S. Embassy

Chinese authorities are investigating a Tuesday incident in which a group of protesters harassed U.S. ambassador Gary Lockein his car outside the U.S. embassy. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. has registered its concern with China both in Washington and Beijing, and Chinese authorities have expressed regret over the incident. Nuland said the preliminary U.S. assessment was that the car was “a target of opportunity” for protesters who had gathered outside the nearby Japanese Embassy. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing Wednesday that the incident was “an individual case,” but that China was investigating it. The incident came amid heightened vigilance for American diplomats following violent attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya, Yemen and Egypt. The embassy in Beijing said it has asked China’s government to do everything possible to protect American facilities and personnel.

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei filmed the incident and posted the above video to Youtube, according to The New York Times, which also posted several photos and tweets that Ai had added about the incident.  Professor Joseph Chung of Hong Kong’s City University told Voice of America that the protest likely took Beijing by surprise:

“This is of course embarrassing for the Chinese authorities. I do not think that the Chinese authorities would like these events to occur,” says Cheng, who added that it was likely just a coincidence that it happened during a visit by U.S. defense chief Leon Panetta. “Naturally, any cars belonging to foreign embassies or foreign diplomats might be a target of harassment very near to the Japanese embassy.”

See also CDT coverage of the recent anti-Japan protests.