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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Debate over role of Chinese officials

April 20, 2008

The Age
April 18, 2008

Kevin Rudd and organisers of the only Australian leg of the Olympic
torch relay are at odds over what role Chinese officials will play in
the event next week.

The prime minister is insisting the officials - known as "flame
attendants" but believed to be para-military officers - will remain on a
bus following the relay participants along a 20km route through central
Canberra.

But organisers say three of the six Chinese officials will actually run
with the torch.

Mr Rudd says he has been advised all the officials will remain in the
bus unless they are required to re-light the torch should it be
extinguished.

"My understanding is that the Chinese torch attendants will play zero
role ... in the provision of any security," he told Fairfax Radio Network.

"We are providing security here. This is our country, we provide the
security - end of story."

Chairman of the Canberra relay task force, Ted Quinlan, says three
Chinese flame attendants will handle the torch at changeover points of
the relay.

They would help light the new torch, extinguish the old one, then escort
relay runners back to a support bus, he said.

The three other officials will travel in the support bus to act as
back-up if the flame attendants tired, Mr Quinlan said.

"That's what's been worked out between the Chinese and our police," he
told ABC Radio.

Mr Quinlan confirmed the Chinese officials would not have any security role.

"When and if push comes to shove, these people are required by our
arrangement to stay out of any fracas, and in fact, to retreat to the
support bus behind them."

Mr Quinlan says he does not know if the Chinese officials will be the
same blue tracksuit-clad security guards who accompanied the torch in
London and Paris.

It would be acceptable to the ACT if the officials had a military or
police background, he said.

The relay will be run next Thursday (April 24) after the torch arrives
in Canberra the day before.

Security along the route is being beefed up following chaotic scenes in
centres where pro-Tibet protesters have attempted to disrupt the relay.

Up to 5,000 pro-China supporters are expected to witness the Canberra
leg along with an unknown number of pro-Tibet protesters.
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