London, Oct.1 (ANI): Politicians and supporters of Tibet have reacted with fury after red and yellow lights shone from the top of the Empire State Building in a tribute to communist China's 60th anniversary.
The Daily Express quoted protesters as saying that the move was "blatant approval" of totalitarianism and inappropriate for an icon in the land of the free.
The New York building is routinely lit to mark holidays and big events, but opponents questioned whether it was right to commemorate a sensitive political issue, particularly when China had such a poor human rights record.
About 20 supporters of Tibet protested outside the building during a ceremonial lighting of a scale model inside the lobby, chanting: "No to China's empire; free Tibet now," and held signs reading "Empire State Building celebrating 60 years of China's oppression".
Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, called the lighting "outright, blatant approval for a communist totalitarian system".
"It's a great public relations coup for the Chinese state," he said. "But on the other hand, it's sure to backfire because the American public and the global public will speak against it."
At the lobby ceremony, building manager Joseph Bellina called the lights a high honour and said he was proud of the relationship between "our countries and our people".
Chinese consul general Peng Keyu, who pulled the switch on the glass-encased model, said he was "honoured and delighted".
Journalist and blogger Marc Masferrer questioned legitimizing a government that continued to repress its citizens' freedoms, including their access to media and the Internet. (ANI)