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How a burning torch ignites the world's conscience

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Message Robert Vance

From the moment that the Olympic Games were bestowed upon Beijing, it was clear that the they would not be about world peace or athletic display. Instead, the Chinese government has been obsessed with making the Olympics all about China and her greatness. The Communist regime should be careful what it wishes for. Four months before the Games are scheduled to begin, the Olympics are all about China but not for the reasons that the government had hoped.  The fiasco in Paris this week clearly demonstrates to the Chinese Government and to the world that the Tibet issue is not going to disappear. No matter how many  "thugs" from the Chinese special forces are sent in to guard the torch, the Tibetans and their supporters worldwide are not going to miss this window of opportunity to condemn China. They have waited too long for an international platform and they will not be denied their chance. The Chinese may be more than capable of suppressing such demonstrations in their own country but the fact that such political protests are allowed in other countries means that the Tibetan voice will be heard. The Chinese government must now realize that a grave mistake was made by allowing the torch to 'tour the world.' Even if the recent events in Tibet had not taken place, it is highly likely that there still would have been worldwide protests. China's human right's record is just too dismal. 

 What can the Chinese government now do to remedy the situation? This is a question that I often ask my Chinese friends. They rarely have an answer. What the world can be sure of is that the Chinese will not make any real concessions on Tibet. Quite simply, they have too much to lose. While the Olympics have been 'hyped up' in China as an event that will bring untold honor and glory to the country, I am convinced that the Communist Government would sacrifice the Games without a second thought in order to secure order in Tibet. The Olympic Games start in five months; they end sixteen days later. The Tibet issue is a centuries old 'thorn in the side' of the country. No one can believe that the Chinese government is going to concede so easily on an issue that has such wide ramifications for the future. When I mention the future, I am speaking of Taiwan. The newly elected Taiwanese government is closely watching the situation in Tibet and the outcome will more than likely have a powerful influence on how the Island deals with the Mainland in the future. The Chinese government cannot afford to 'go soft' on Tibet. 

With the real possibility that neither the Chinese government nor the Tibetans will  'back down' from their positions, it is hard to imagine any scenario in which the Olympic Games will run smoothly. As the Opening Ceremonies approach, the Tibetans and their supporters are only going to become more vocal. The Chinese government's patience will continue to wear thin and there could be some real fireworks in the coming months. When the Olympics finally do get under way, there is no telling what other surprises may reveal themselves. The Tibetans have many sympathizers around the world; many of those people will most definitely be attending the Games. Chinese security will be busy; but they are experts at suppressing protests and demonstrations. It will be interesting to see how they do this with the entire world watching.  

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Robert Vance is a China based freelance writer and teacher who has traveled extensively throughout Asia and Latin America. He spent more than a decade as a radio broadcaster in the United States before moving to Asia to focus on writing about (more...)
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