05/08/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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The torch on the roof of the world, to celebrate Chinese greatness

The summit was "conquered" at 9:11 Beijing time, despite freezing temperatures and gusts of wind. The final group was made up of Han Chinese and Tibetans, to demonstrate harmony. But the police in China and Nepal were on the watch for "unauthorised" persons.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Today at 9:11 local time, the Olympic torch reached "the roof of the world", 8,848 metres high on the summit of Mount Everest.  Meanwhile, the progress of the other Olympic torch continues without problems, arriving in Shenzhen.

After more than a week of preparations and some failed attempts, from the last base at 8,300 metres a special torch departed, designed to remain lit in spite of the lack of oxygen and the strong winds.  The final segment of the climb was completed by a team of six members, chosen with intentional symbolic and propaganda significance: Tibetans, Han Chinese, and minority Tu and Tujia ethnics, to demonstrate an ideal of harmony among the various ethnicities in China. For the last few metres, the torch was carried by the Tibetan Ciren Wangmu.  Then, on the summit, the team raised the Olympic and Chinese flags, and in front of the television cameras repeated the official slogans, like "One world, one dream", and spoke of harmony and peace.  The eight-hour climb, with temperatures of minus 30 degrees and violent gusts of wind, was carried live on Chinese television.  Online chat sites were jammed with messages of congratulations.

Since the torch arrived in China, it has been represented by two models: the voyage of the other, which today arrived in Shenzhen, was delayed for a few hours to celebrate the "conquest" of Everest.  The two flames now continue their respective journeys, in order to come together, probably in mid-June, in Lhasa.

The ascent of Mount Everest was highly controversial after the repression in March, and many pro-Tibet groups had asked Beijing to cancel this gesture, described as mere "propaganda".  In response, China, together with Nepal, had for weeks prohibited the foreign media and enthusiasts from climbing the peak, out of fear of protests and pro-Tibet banners, and Nepal had threatened even to "open fire" against any violators.  The ascent was "controlled" with heavy security measures.

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