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Chinese in Australia vow to defend Olympic torch from pro-Tibet 'scum'

April 17, 2008

By Nick Squires in Sydney, United Kingdom

Thousands of Chinese expatriates are mobilising to defend the Olympic
torch from pro-Tibet "scum" when it passes through the Australian capital.

Chinese community leaders are invoking patriotism in an attempts to drum
up a “people’s army” in Canberra next week.

Australian authorities fear the torch relay will lead to clashes
reminiscent of London and Paris when the torch is taken on a 12-mile route.

Chinese migrants and students are being urged to defend the torch from
Tibetan and Falun Gong “running dogs”, “scum” and “splittists”.

“Whether you carry a Chinese passport or are an Australian citizen, I
believe that each and every one of you, the sons and daughters of China,
are as one with us in loyalty and love for the motherland!” one letter
being circulated among Chinese Australians reads.

The Chinese embassy was backing the peaceful show of strength, reports said.

A student leader, Zhang Rongan, said diplomats were helping to organise
buses, meals and accommodation for protesters converging on Canberra
from all over Australia.

Chinese paramilitary guards, who have been accused of heavy-handed
behaviour in London and Paris where they ran alongside the torch, have
been strictly prohibited by Australian authorities from having any
security role when the torch reaches Canberra on April 24.

Australian officials are adamant that the blue tracksuit-wearing Chinese
guards travelling with the torch will be confined to vehicles and said
they would be arrested if they grappled with any protesters.

“The answer is no they won’t [have any responsibility for security] and,
in fact, they could be subject to arrest in fact if they laid a hand on
somebody,” said Ted Quinlan, chairman of the Canberra relay task force.

The Australian Federal Police will be in charge of security, said
Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

“The only role that they – the Chinese officials – will play will be to
light the torch should it be extinguished.”

Exiled Tibetans and their supporters have pledged to demonstrate against
recent Chinese human rights violations in the region but said their
protests would be peaceful.

Australian police have been given tough new powers to ban people along
the relay route from carrying “prohibited items” such as eggs, paint
bombs, fire extinguishers, flares and fireworks.

The torch relay, which began in Greece on March 24, has been a rallying
point for critics of China’s policies in Tibet, Burma and Sudan.

In London and Paris, demonstrators who tried to extinguish the flame and
prevent torch-bearers from participating in the relay scuffled with
police, in what became a public relations disaster for Beijing.
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