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Why I Hope the Olympic Torch Relay in Canberra will Be Peaceful

I really hope when the Beijing Olympics torch passes through Canberra that the protests will be as peaceful as people are claiming they will be:

FREE Tibet activists say they are delighted with the protests dogging the Olympic torch, and promise a strong but non-violent protest in Australia.

The Olympic torch relay is set to arrive in Canberra on April 24 following wild protests in London and Paris.

It arrived yesterday in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam to start a drastically curtailed African leg.

Voice of Tibet Australia spokesman Tenpa Dugdak said he was pleased with the protests because they had thrown the spotlight on human rights abuses in Tibet.

“I think it was fantastic,” he told the Nine Network. [AAP]

Fantastic? How do you call the fact a handicapped Chinese woman carrying the torch was attacked by a bunch of thugs “fantastic”?:

The torch bearer Jin Jing is a Chinese para-Olympics athlete with one leg who was attacked by protesters on the Paris leg of the torch relay. She was attacked multiple times by the protesters who pulled her hair and punched her in the head, but she fought off the attacks each time to protect the torch.

This picture of Jin Jing is currently the most famous photo in China:

You can see more pictures of Jin Jing and the attack here.

This attack against Jin Jing has given the Chinese government the image they needed to unite the Chinese public like never before. These attacks against a handicapped woman has only confirmed what the Chinese state controlled media has been telling the Chinese public for weeks, that the criticisms and protests from the west over the Tibet issue is actually an attack against all the people of China.

I don’t like the current crackdown in Tibet, but these Free Tibet protesters are doing nothing to bring about change in China’s policies towards Tibet with these violent protests. In fact these protests have only garnered the Chinese government more support within China. What else bothers me about the whole Free Tibet protests is that they are being led by the anti-establishment types that we saw here in Australia trash Melbourne during the G20 summit and cause violence in Sydney during the APEC meetings. If someone wants to hold up signs or turn their backs on the torch as it passes I don’t have a problem with that, but these violent protests are an embarrassment and to many Chinese appear to be xenophobic. I actually commend Jin Jing for standing up to these thugs like she did.

People underestimate the power of nationalism in China especially in regards to how western nations forcibly colonized China in the past two centuries. From the Chinese perspective giving up Tibet would be like Australia giving up all claims to aboriginal lands. It just isn’t going to happen and the best that can be hoped for would be to have an autonomous Tibet area established like what the aborigines have today in Australia to protect Tibetan culture. The biggest threat to Tibetan culture is how the Chinese government is encouraging millions of Han Chinese to settle in Tibet. In Australia outsiders have to get permits to visit aboriginal lands which protects their culture.

Something similar should be set up in Tibet which if this issue was pursued in a mature manner could be a possibility. However, as long as handicapped Chinese women are physically attacked by these violent protesters the Chinese government will never compromise on anything in regards to Tibet. Let’s hope that the protesters in Canberra do not add to this problem.

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