Accusing Chinese diplomats stationed in the US of attempting to limit free speech, US lawmakers have said that a recent move to push a little known American city to remove a mural on 'free Tibet' and 'Taiwan independence' is "a grave affront".
"Limitations on speech and expression are incompatible with fundamental human rights anywhere in the world, and an attempt by your representatives to limit freedom of speech in the United States is a grave affront", Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said in a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui.
Wyden wrote the strongly worded letter to Zhang after the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco wrote a letter requesting that the City of Corvallis "adopt effective measures to stop the activities advocating 'Tibet Independence' and 'Taiwan Independence'."
The letter was referring to a mural painted on a building owned by David Lin.
Two officials from the consulate flew to Corvallis to further pressure city officials to remove the mural.
Similar views were echoed by another Congressman Peter DeFazio from Oragon saying he was "shocked and appalled".
"They are trying to pressure the mayor of the City of Corvallis to compel a local businessman to remove a mural dedicated to free Tibet and Taiwan independence from his downtown building.
"It was characterised by the local newspaper as a shakedown because the original letter broadly hinted that it might be in Corvallis' best interest economically to cooperate with the request," DeFazio said in his speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives.
"I am shocked and appalled that apparently Chinese professional diplomats have failed to read the Constitution of the United States of America before travelling here to represent their country," he said.
"This represents the basis of our representative democracy, our freedom of speech, and our rights, and it will not be bullied by China or any other overseas interest", DeFazio said, adding that the Chinese consul general recently sent a letter to the mayor of Corvallis, a small city in his district.
The letter was followed up by personal visits by the vice consul and the deputy consul general.