Pro-China Groups Blocked From Playing Drums as President Xi Arrives in U.K.

Pro-China demonstrators have been told they will not be able to play drums in the Royal Parks near Buckingham Palace, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will kick off his state visit to the U.K. on Tuesday, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The decision is due to regulations governing the playing of instruments in Royal Parks, despite pro-China groups using drums during the last official visit to Britain of a Chinese head of state, Hu Jintao, in 2005. It is unclear what has prompted the change in regulation.

The Royal Parks policy says that "no entertainment or other performances may take place". The Royal Parks is an executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

A spokesperson for the Royal Parks told the Guardian, "The Royal Parks have a long history of accommodating peaceful public protests. We usually only allow protests in Hyde Park but in exceptional circumstances we will consider applications for demonstrations elsewhere providing they adhere to the park regulations. But we must not lose sight that these are public parks, primarily places for recreation, and we must ensure they are managed in a way that caters for all park users."

President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan arrived last night at Heathrow airport, and were greeted by the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond. The Chinese president will stay in Britain until Friday during which time the focus will be on strengthening economic ties between the two nations.

In an interview published on the night before Xi's trip, the president told Reuters, "The U.K. has stated that it will be the Western country that is most open to China. This is a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain's own long-term interest."

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have been criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International for seemingly ignoring the problem of human rights in China.

"The visit comes amidst a marked deterioration in the human rights situation in China under President Jinping's leadership," Amnesty has said. "The government has ratcheted up censorship of the internet, clamped down on civil society, increased its ideological controls over the media and academia, and launched several large-scale crackdowns on human rights defenders, lawyers, and activists."

Hundreds of protesters from Amnesty, pro-Tibetan groups and other Chinese dissident groups are planning to gather in St James's Park on Tuesday morning, as President Xi is driven along the Mall to Buckingham Palace. The Chinese premier will attend a banquet at the palace on Tuesday evening.