They came, they stood, and they cheered

300 Chinese nationals gather in Chennai to greet Xi

Published - October 12, 2019 01:07 am IST - CHENNAI

Chinese nationals waiting to catch a glimpse of President Xi Jinping. B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Chinese nationals waiting to catch a glimpse of President Xi Jinping. B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Unmindful of the sweltering heat, Shi Farong, Zhang Junsong and Dang Aiguo waited patiently outside the ITC Grand Chola, holding panda soft toys and waving the Indian and Chinese national flags.

The trio had travelled thousands of kilometres to catch a glimpse of President Xi Jinping. They were among the nearly 300 Chinese nationals who had gathered in Chennai from various parts of the country. “Our long wait was fruitful as he waved at us,” said Mr. Shi.

Police personnel were posted at all buildings on Anna Salai near the hotel to check visitors, who started trickling in from around noon. Most of them were students and Chinese nationals, while a handful were staff from offices nearby.

After being checked, the visitors were allowed to stand behind barricades placed opposite and near the hotel’s entry. All of them waved the Chinese and Indian flags. One Chinese national fainted due to the extreme heat and was administered first aid by staff of a 108 ambulance stationed closeby. Apart from the onlookers, several schoolchildren also stood in the heat waving the flags.

Patient wait

Around 1.30 p.m., the usually bustling Anna Salai fell silent as all traffic was halted apart from the occasional police vehicle. After having waited for over two hours, the crowd was treated to the sight of the Chinese President's convoy making its slow and majestic descent down the Guindy bridge around 2.25 p.m.

The sight of the motorcade roused the crowds wilting in the heat. Enthusiastic Chinese nationals started shouting slogans hailing their leader. Waiting musicians broke into traditional welcome music on the nadaswaram and thavil as the motorcade slowly took a U-Turn at the Halda Junction and made its way into the hotel around 2.30 p.m.

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