May 08

Massive crowds swamp torch in Shenzhen

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:
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The torch has successfully completed the run in Shenzhen, although there are stories of difficulties navigating the crowds. The torch might have even been extinguished and transported via bus along part of the route… something similar to what happened in Paris, but for precisely the opposite reason. Reportedly 8 million people were on the streets for the torch.

Here are early pictures:

UPDATE: There were also unsubstantiated rumors that the torch had been extinguished by “Chinese protesters” near Shenzhen’s “Window to the World” park. We will just have to wait for the video evidence promised by the Asia Sentinel blog. The video is now up, and it does not come close to delivering on earlier promises. It shows only an enthusiastic crowd of Chinese chanting “Go China”, surrounding someone carrying an extinguished torch on the way to a bus; considering the setting, this someone had probably already completed his torch run.

This eye-witness on Tianya reports a very different scene.

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May 08

Lodi Gyari, one of the Dalai Lama’s special envoys sent to Shenzhen, has issued the statement below in reference to the recent talks in Shenzhen. Most of the statement is a reiteration of the exile government’s negotiating position, which few Chinese find acceptable in full. The idea that those directly involved in murder, vandalism, and assault on 3/14 can be released is ridiculous.

Beyond repeating its position, the suggestion of shared common ground and the positive ending is most interesting:

Despite major differences on important issues both sides demonstrated a willingness to seek common approaches in addressing the issues at hand. In this regard, each side made some concrete proposals, which can be part of the future agenda. As a result an understanding was reached to continue the formal round of discussions. A date for the seventh round will be finalised soon after mutual consultations.

We welcome the recent statement of President Hu Jintao that his government is “serious” about the dialogue and his acknowledging that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is being “conscientious and serious”.

Statement in full after the jump.

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May 08

Politics and the Beijing Olympics

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Analysis, News | Tags:,
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The Christian Science Monitor has an article on the historical links between the Olympics and politics. It’s mostly a repetition of what other articles have said, but there are a few interesting quotes.

Similarities stop there, however, says Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, currently in Beijing studying Chinese preparations for the Olympics. In the Olympic education campaign that the authorities have been running from primary school level to university, she says, “the Communist party is almost never mentioned, and nor is socialism.”

This is something most Chinese recognize. The government hasn’t made these games about the Communist party; only foreign activists have done that. From our point of view, we are looking to celebrate our country’s remarkable progress over the past 30 years. These Olympics are Beijing’s Olympics, the Chinese people’s Olympics… not the Communist Party’s Olympics.

This is also precisely why there such genuine grassroots anger and frustration from average Chinese that our Olympics have been threatened and abused by overseas activists.

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May 08

Olympic torch on top of the world

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In a moment that made many Chinese proud, 21 Tibetan-Chinese, 8 Han-Chinese, and 1 Tujia-Chinese helped bring the 2008 Olympic Torch to top of the worlds’ highest peak.

The name of the peak in Tibetan is ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ (jo-mo glang-ma ri), which is often translated as “Great Mother” (literal translation as given in Chinese: “mother of Earth”). The first written recording of the peak comes from 1717, when a Beijing cartographer sent by the Qing Emperor Kangxi published it as part of an imperial map (皇舆全览图). The peak was marked on the map in the first half of the 18th century in Manchu and Hanyu as 朱母郎马阿林 (zhu mu lang ma a lin). The name of the peak in Chinese is now 珠穆朗玛峰 (zhu mu lang ma feng), transliterated into English as Mount Qomolangma.

British cartographers would first identify this peak nearly 150 years later, in 1847. But the name selected by the British Royal Geographical Society still dominates in the West today: Mount Everest, after British surveyor George Everest. Several years back, China encouraged the world to rename the peak’s name in English based on its original Tibetan name, but the Western world hasn’t followed. In English, they continue to refer to the mountain by the name of a Knight of the British Realm.

ADDED: AP wire report: “Tibetan woman holds Olympic flame atop Everest