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Olympic torch relay brings China woe rather than glory

April 19, 2008

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

BEIJING — The Olympic torch relay was meant to kick off China‘s moment in the sun, but it’s turned into a public relations fiasco with ever-larger squads of police in foreign capitals shielding the torch from protesters.

People visit Japan's Buddhist Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, ...
People visit Japan’s Buddhist Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, central Japan. Monks at the ancient Japanese Buddhist temple on Friday pulled out of hosting a ceremony for the protest-marred Olympic torch relay because of China’s crackdown in Tibet.(AFP/JIJI PRESS)


China has given no sign that it will cut short the relay, which continues its 21-city global odyssey Saturday in Bangkok, Thailand , and Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia .

Yet frustration has set in that the troubled torch relay may signal further minefields ahead for the Summer Games on Aug. 8-24 , and a loss of face for China rather than a boost for the world’s most populous nation.

“All that has happened is a kind of humiliation,” said Hu Xingdou, a political analyst at the Beijing Institute of Technology . “The government never expected this.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080418/
wl_mcclatchy/2913842_1

People holding Tibetan flags demonstrate on March 31 in Lyon, ...
People holding Tibetan flags demonstrate on March 31 in Lyon, southeastern France, to denounce the Chinese clampdown in Tibet. China said that protesters were out to hijack the Olympic Games as the torch relay embarked on a world tour that ignited demonstrations world wide.(AFP/Jean-Philippe Ksiazek)


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Thailand Braces for Unrest As Olympic Torch Approaches

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of Thai police braced for another round of anti-China protests on Saturday as the Olympic torch was readied for its parade through Bangkok, the latest leg of its troubled tour from Greece to Beijing.

Several groups angry at Beijing’s human rights record and its rule in Tibet are planning demonstrations but will meet no opposition from police as long as they remain orderly, Thai Olympic chief General Yuthasak Sasiprapa said.

“If they are peaceful, it’s OK,” he told Reuters. “But we will not tolerate any violent or illegal protests. The torch and runners will be tightly escorted by police patrols and motorcycles all along the route.”

The 10.5-km (6.5-mile) relay is due to start at 0800 GMT in the capital’s China Town — a reflection of Thailand‘s close social ties to its giant regional neighbor — before proceeding past the golden-spired Grand Palace.

The main protest during the procession will be outside the regional headquarters of the United Nations, where a dozen pro-democracy groups say they will demonstrate against China‘s crackdown on unrest in Tibet in March.

Police Special Branch officers say they are also aware of a move by local supporters of Falun Gong, the religious group outlawed by Beijing, to voice their opposition to the Games, which open in Beijing on August 8.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080419/wl_nm/olympics_torch_dc_1

A police car is parked in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok ...
A police car is parked in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok on April 18, 2008. The troubled Olympic torch relay arrived in Thailand on Friday, as more controversy erupted when one of the Japanese hosts dropped out in protest over China’s crackdown in Tibet.(AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

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