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  • » 03/31/2008, 00.00

    CHINA

    The torch "of peace" sets out, with Beijing up in arms



    From the Chinese capital, the flame of the Olympic torch will travel to 20 countries, for a total of 137 thousand kilometres. The government is drawing up a list of its six most dangerous enemies, and is preparing to fight them. A United States activist warns: the leadership is ready to sacrifice the Olympics in order to maintain national security.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) - The torch "of peace and harmony", the symbol of the Chinese Olympics, is preparing for an armoured voyage worthy of a nuclear warhead.  The communist government, according to anonymous sources, is concerned about the possibility of anti-Chinese demonstrations in the various cities involved in the tour (the longest in history), and is ready to fight to avoid these.  In the meantime, a leading expert on Chinese society warns: "Beijing is ready to do anything to safeguard its national security, even if this draws the condemnation of the world upon it".

    According toward Hong Kong newspaper, the BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympics) security department has drawn up a list of six organisations or ethnic groups that represent a threat to the torch's journey, which begins tomorrow and will cross 20 nations, for a total of 137 thousand kilometres.  A source inside the department explains: "These groups have very strong ties to the nations involved, and they are ready to do anything to disrupt the peaceful unfolding of the itinerary".

    The most "dangerous" are: the members of Falun Gong, a spiritual group with about 100 million adherents (according to the group's own estimate), which China considers demonic and persecutes ferociously; the Tibetans; the supporters of Darfur; and those who support the Burmese monks against the military junta of Yangon, which is very close to the Chinese leadership.  The destinations most at  risk include the United States city of San Francisco, where the Olympic flame will arrive on April 9.

    The demonstrators who have gathered for this event are motivated by so many factors that they are considering the possibility of dressing in different colours according to the groups to which they belong, in order to guarantee that their own message reaches its destination.  To stop them, the members of the security department - which includes policeman, secret service agents, and military personnel - have prepared foot patrols, interventions, and operations of "preventive dissuasion".

    But all of this does not imply that China wants to give an inch with regard to national security. John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation in the United States, has been working for years with the communist authorities in order to reach compromises on the situation of political detainees in the Chinese prisons.  On this question, he says China "will sacrifice the Olympics to preserve national security. The government is adopting a hard position on Tibet. A senior official told me that any signs of concession would be seen as signs of weakness".

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    See also

    04/08/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA - NEPAL
    Tibetan Olympic torch, sign of freedom and justice
    In imitation of the Olympic torch, it has crossed five continents to recall the Tibetan question and Chinese repression against rights in the country, and call for Tibet's freedom. Meanwhile, yesterday in Nepal 253 pro-Tibet demonstrators were arrested.

    02/05/2008 HONG KONG-CHINA-TIBET-SUDAN
    Three billion dollars a year from China for the genocide in Darfur
    Tomorrow, two envoys from the Dalai Lama in Beijing to begin the scheduled talks. In Hong Kong, actress Mia Farrow asks Beijing to "use its great influence" to stop the massacre in Darfur. Meanwhile, the torch passes through Hong Kong without serious problems.

    08/04/2008 CHINA
    Olympics: following protests, China "locks down" the borders
    Entry visas are harder to obtain, and short-term visas from Hong Kong have been suspended, out of fear of protesters. Experts: this is evidence of weakness. Meanwhile, the Olympic committee will discuss whether to halt the torch's journey, after protests in Paris and London. Demonstrations in San Francisco already underway.

    03/05/2008 CHINA - TIBET
    Beijing will have Tibetans carry the torch on Everest
    The Chinese government confirms: among the 50 climbers who will carry the Olympic symbol to the roof of the world, there will also be Tibetans. The climb should begin on May 5, while envoys from the Dalai Lama are arriving in Beijing to find a "common solution" to the crisis of Tibet.

    17/04/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA
    The torch goes to India, amid protests for the Tibetan victims and police protection
    Numerous peaceful protests greet the "torch of shame". The route is reduced from 9 kilometres to 2.3. Tibetan exiles: if the torch passes through Tibet, there is the risk of greater repression and more deaths, and the International Olympic Committee will be responsible.



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