Only one of the five mobile billboards with a several-metre high fake photo of President Xi Jinping giving the "up yours" to Paris hit the streets before being stopped by police.
Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders had planned to cruise the city with the images to mark this week's three-day state visit of China’s president to France. The group wanted to bring attention to the far eastern power’s poor treatment of journalists.
China came in nearly at the bottom, in 175th place out of 180 countries, in the group's press freedom rankings this year.
“At least 74 netizens (internet citizens), including the Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo, and 30 journalists are currently imprisoned, making China the largest prison in the world for information workers,” the group wrote in a statement posted to its website.
Here is a video from French daily Le Monde on the protest, which contains some French.
French cops on high alert for the state visit, which had dozens of roads and Metro stations shut down, nabbed four of the trucks at the entrance to Paris’s ring road and grabbed the other one as it drove on Avenue de la Grande Armée.
Reporters Without Borders Executive Director Christopher Deloire told French media he’d hoped to get people’s attention.
“The goal was not to disrupt the visit, but to get the word out by driving the billboards around Paris,’ he told French magazine Nouvel Observateur.