Chinese President Xi Jinping's welcome reception met with protests

Hundreds of supporters and protesters gathered outside a dinner reception welcoming China's president on Wednesday, prompting three arrests, though police didn't say why.

The event, during APEC, was co-hosted by the National Committee on United States-China Relations, a nonprofit based in New York, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown San Francisco on 3rd Street.

Protesters, including some from out of state, said they did not want President Xi Jinping here.

One Tibetan activist climbed up a pole to express her opposition.

Supporters were brought in by buses from different parts of the Bay Area. 

They said it was important to welcome the Chinese leader.

"It's important for building up and improving friendship of United States and China," said Frank Kwong.

"We want President Biden to cooperate with China, but don't do so blindly," said Tashi D with San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress.

Guests were required to go through a metal detector. 

The Chinese delegation arrived at the event in three vans. 

Among those invited was California Treasurer Fiona Ma, the highest ranking Chinese American elected official in the state. Her parents are immigrants from China.

"Our relationships with China here in California are very important," said Ma.

She shared with KTVU a photo of herself with President Xi taken at the event. 

Ma said climate change is one topic that is important to address with China.

"We really do need to cooperate, mutual cooperation especially when it comes to climate because we only have one Earth," she said. 

President Xi spoke at the reception in Mandarin. 

Through an interpreter, he said, "I have found that although our countries are different in culture, history and social system and have embarked on different development paths, our two peoples are both kind, friendly, hardworking and down to earth.  We both love our countries."

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff posted this photo on social media of himself with Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the event.

KTVU caught up with him and former San Francisco Mayor Willlie Brown before the reception started. 

Benioff spoke about a conversation he had with President Xi.

"This is his favorite city in America. I've talked to him about that. He loves San Francisco," said Benioff. "We're so proud of San Francisco.  We're doing a great job hosting the most important conference in the world. 

Brown added: "Having good relationships with China serves the world really in a very wonderful way. After all, we are the two largest producers of anything and everything." 

Xi is scheduled to be here until Friday.

Merchants in Chinatown hoped that he will stop by for a visit.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU.  Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.