Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Hong Kong: Olympic Torch Relay, the Virtual and the Real

The real Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong has been criticized as a political decision as most of the non-athletic torch bearers were from the pro-China political clan. In the street, the Beijing supporters also out-numbered the protesters for human rights. However, in the virtual torch relay organized by local bloggers, the viewpoints are much more diverse.

blogtorch08 banner

The virtual torch relay, blogtorch08, was organized by More than one on April 8, dukedom of Aberdeen wrote:

如果香港要有火炬手,應該找些不是垃圾的運動員,應該找些平民百姓甚至弱勢社群,而不是給那些政治人物或富貴人家來曝光。
我是這樣的想法,你也可以有你的想法。我還是覺得,同一個世界,最好有更多不同的夢想。

If we are to have torch bearers, we shouldn’t invite the junky athletes, we should look for ordinary people or the minorities, not to create a spotlight for the politicians and the rich and powerful celebrities.

This is what I think, you can have your own opinion. I still feel that one world is better to have many diverse dreams.

Up till now, there are more than 70 blog posts. Many of them criticized the arrangement of real torch relay. Ngsezhin pointed out that:

主辦大國以一幫錦衣衛護著那可憐的小火點到處跑。與其說是傳聖火,倒不如說是示威罷?其實這也是有跡可尋。傳聖火的起源不是古代奧運會,而是 1936 年柏林奧運會中希特拉用以宣傳納粹德國的公關手段

The organizing country has a team of torch guards to protect the tiny flame. It is not holy torch relay, but a demonstration. Actually we have historical traces. The Olympic torch relay is not originated from ancient Greek Olympic, but in 1936 by Hitler in the Berlin Olympics. It was used as a public relation strategy by the Nazi.

Nikita also pointed out that the Beijing Olympics has been politicized since the very first day:

中共在申奧時聲稱會改善人權狀況,北京申奧委副主席劉敬民的話:「由北京舉辦奧運會將有助於中國的人權事業發展。」(出處),將政治和體育混為一談的始作俑者是中共當局…

When the Communist Chinese government applied for hosting the Olympics, it promised they would improve the human right condition. The vice chair of Beijing Olympic Committee Liu Jin-min said: “If Beijing hosts the Olympics, it would help the development of human rights in China.” (Source ). The mixture of politics and sport has been debuted from the Chinese government…

Stannum from Sidney talked about the history of Olympic torch relay protest in Australia to explain that there is nothing “Holy” about the torch. Tintin also pointed out that the Chinese translation has missed interpreted “Olympic flame” into “Olympic sacred flame”. Ah Tong followed the discussion and wondered who was the idiot to state the rules that “the Olympic sacred fire shall never be put out, not even for one second”? Singsit referred to ancient Greek mythology and pointed out that the sacred fire is originated from Prometheus’ action against the Gods, stealing fire from heaven:

假如當年普羅米和我們一般的昧著良心,不為正義去挑戰權力,不肯冒險作公民抗命的話,今天,世上還有火可以給舉起來嗎!?討厭那些人一手把人類最重要最寶貴的人權自由都沒收在手裡,然後涎著臉胡說:「聖火」不容侵犯。

If Prometheus had not challenge God’s power and conducted the civil disobedient act according to his faith, do we still have fire for us to uphold today? I hate those people who are repressing the most precious human rights and freedom while insisting that “the sacred flame cannot be offended.”

Richey disagreed with the connection of Olympics and human rights issue and wanted to voice out his discontent towards the people who are using the Olympic as an excuse to force-feed something that is totally irrelevant to the Olympic game.

Daihung made fun of the Olympic torch relay protest and said that Torchsnatching has turned into an official competition in 2008 Beijing Olympics. He even made a poster for this event:

touchsnatching design

Edmund Hui on the other hand tried to figure out how to create an inextinguishable Olympic torch. Harry Potter’s magic is one of his suggestions.

Infilmity noticed that the official name of the 08 torch relay is called “harmonious trip” and he foresaw that news and information regarding the Olympics would be “harmonized”. Technologypark complained about the harmonized measure (deleting photos with pro-Tibet protesters) in mainland China BBS forum and exclaimed that “Let’s all die in Harmony”.

Rosery joined the “Human Right in Tibet” demonstration in London and she was happy that the torch would not past through Taiwan this time.

Heart of Kafka tried to explain the Chinese logic in the Torch relay protect campaign:

中國很辛苦的掙了個資格。現在錢我交了﹐場地我建了﹐你才和我玩杯葛? 還要搶火熄火? 西藏問題這麼多年你不出聲﹐現在就比CCTV更CCTV的說中國的不是?

不過也好﹐西方傳媒與那些連西藏也不知道在哪的示威份子達成了一個中國共產黨也不能做到的目標 – 團結海外華人的”愛國”心。

It is very hard for China to get the entry to the Olympics, now I have paid and built the stadiums and you called for boycott? And you wanted to grab and extinguish my fire? The Tibet issue is always there, now you criticize China with a media worse than CCTV?

Well, western media and those protesters who don’t even know where Tibet is have help the CCP to achieve a goal – united overseas Chinese.

Shadow Cabinet pointed out that the fate of China is still caught in the victim imagination during the war time. It is unreasonable that a strong country would feel threaten by a non-existing country – Tibet.

Back to the real Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong today, Tsang Hin Chi (a pro-China businessman) and Leung Chun-ying (an Executive Council member) are two most controversial figures. Point South supported both for them because their existence is a proof on the political character of the Beijing Olympics.

Chonghead has a summary of today protest action with photos and video clips:

10:35am: Protest Banner action at Tsimshatsiu: One protest banner “Human right repression” was confiscated while another one on “Release Hu Jia” was hanged out at Chungking Mansion during the relay.

release hu jia banner

10:45am: Human rights and free Tibet protesters were surrounded and attacked by pro-China cheering team.

13:00pm: Students’ protest placards were confiscated by police.

16:00pm: A protester was surrounded by cover-up polices who confiscated his protest placards and threatened to arrest him.

30 comments

  • Knights

    Finally you admitt that

    “.. . . . non-existing country – Tibet.”

    When the twin towers went down in 9/11, the incident Bush could not locate Bin Ladin, so he found a scape (Saddam Hussien) and invaded Iraq. Bush drove america into the ground with five years of nonsense war. Yet he and his friends CNN kept americans in the dark so that they reelected him. I was surprised by the action taken by the world’s most powerful country (u.s.a) to invade a tiny helpless country for revenge!!!!!

  • Yesterday’s relay was evidence to the dangerously prevailing sentiments of patriotism and nationalism that has seized the city, with the arrival of the torch. But we have to ask ourselves: what else did the torch bring along with it?

    Ignorance, bigotry and blind-allegiance to the establishment?

    Because from the harassment that I’ve seen on news by pro-Beijing crowds (calling the pro-Human Rights crowd “traitors” and “dogs”), it certainly seemed so.

    PS. Here’s the 2nd post of the newly relaunched larryau.com in response to the day’s events.

    http://larryau.com/2008/05/02/orange-boxers/

  • Paren

    I was surprised by the action taken by the world’s most powerful country (u.s.a) to invade a tiny helpless country for revenge

    Iraq is not tiny or helpless. As a US citizen I was opposed to the invasion. However, the war in Iraq is irrelevant to the discussion of Tibet. Each is a separate issue. In Seoul, Chinese torch guardians attacked not only Free Tibet demonstrators but also protestors opposed to China’s policy of returning North Korean refugees in violation of the UN agreement it signed. Korea is not the West and advocates of humane treatment for North Korean refugees are not China bashers.

  • my_mother

    Paren:

    The Iraq situation is especially relevant given that you had to clarify your position and make a distinction between you and your government. I don’t know about the anti-china protesters in Korea, but the “Pro-Tibet” and “Anti-China” people I saw in San Francisco were extremely provocative and often don’t make any distinction between the government and the people. It kind of makes you wonder what were the exact actions of all parties that led up to what we saw in Korea and Japan.

    Kain

  • Paren

    The Iraq situation is especially relevant given that you had to clarify your position and make a distinction between you and your government.

    I clarified my position lest anyone presume that I rejected the Iraq comparison because I was a supporter. It is irrelevant because whether or not the US invasion of Iraq was just has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not China’s 1951 invasion of Tibet was just.

    I don’t know about the anti-china protesters in Korea, but the “Pro-Tibet” and “Anti-China” people I saw in San Francisco were extremely provocative and often don’t make any distinction between the government and the people. It kind of makes you wonder what were the exact actions of all parties that led up to what we saw in Korea and Japan.

    Koreans and Japanese are Koreans and Japanese. They are not Westerners although some demonstrations in both countries included foreign participants. It is illogical to presume that if Western demonstrators provoked Chinese reactions in Paris, London, and San Francisco, then the same thing must have happened in Seoul.

    The photographic and video evidence on the internet strongly supports that nearly all of the violence in Seoul was carried out by Chinese demonstrators. Photos of Chinese students hittting and kicking demonstrators can be found on every major Chinese portal from Sina to 163.com to huanqiu to Tianya, punctuated by gleeful, nationalistic comments from netizens. Photos on Chinese websites show that the North Korean human rights demonstrators were across the street from Olympic Park and in no way attempted to disrupt the torch relay when a much larger crowd of Chinese students crossed the street to confront them, held back by a police line. Youtube videos show bottles and other garbage being hurled at the NK human rights demonstrators. I haven’t seen a single photo showing a Korean demonstrator actually harming a Chinese student.

    Many Chinese make no distinction between Free Tibet supporters and North Korean human rights supporters, deriding both as 反华分子, or anti-Chinese. An overreaction to an overreaction: knee-jerk defensiveness against any criticism because some of it is irrational and unfair. I expect we’re going to hear the word 反华分子 more often as China’s global presence grows.

  • my_mother

    Paren:

    Thank you for missing my point entirely.

    The very fact that you have to clarify your position on Iraq as distinct from that of our government’s highlights the importance of not conflating people’s motive with that of their government’s: whether they are Chinese, American, or what not.

    That aside, I do agree with you that Korean and Japanese are Koreans and Japanese rather than Occidentals. But people are people. They react when provoked regardless of race or nationality. What we don’t see on all those pictures and videos are what precipitated those events. We are of no doubt what happened, but why did they happen? That’s what the pictures and videos don’t show. So, we have to ask ourselves, when we are attributing a reason and motive for people’s actions, are they factual? Or were we just Ad libbing, filling in the blank as we go? Like because the Chinese were angry; Because Chinese government told them to, etc.

    The same is applicable for the Lhasa riots. Why did it happen? I am sure anyone reading this post (including you) will offer a perspective on what lead up to them. I am sure I will get wildly different takes / interpretations on the events. But we have to ask ourselves, are these perspectives factual or were we just Ad libbing (just ever so slightly)? Think about.

    Best
    Kain

    Passion without reason is just pure fanaticism.

  • Paren

    “The very fact that you have to clarify your position on Iraq as distinct from that of our government’s highlights the importance of not conflating people’s motive with that of their government’s: whether they are Chinese, American, or what not. “

    Thank you for clarifying your opinion, and I agree. That is exactly why Chinese netizens are wrong to mislabel North Korean human rights activists as “fanhuafenzi,” or China haters. Individuals can legitimately criticize the policies and actions of their own and other countries’ governments.

    “That aside, I do agree with you that Korean and Japanese are Koreans and Japanese rather than Occidentals. But people are people. They react when provoked regardless of race or nationality. What we don’t see on all those pictures and videos are what precipitated those events. We are of no doubt what happened, but why did they happen? That’s what the pictures and videos don’t show. So, we have to ask ourselves, when we are attributing a reason and motive for people’s actions, are they factual? Or were we just Ad libbing, filling in the blank as we go? Like because the Chinese were angry; Because Chinese government told them to, etc.”

    There is a wealth of photographic and video evidence online at Chinese, Korean, and English language websites, so we do know what happened before, during, and after certain events like the clash between the Chinese students and the North Korean human rights demonstrators. We know from video evidence and from photographic evidence from Chinese websites that the students were provoked by the mere sight of a demonstration criticizing China’s repatratiation of North Korean refugees. Kain, my friend, there are numerous photographs of the encounter with the bicyclist, yet none show him physically harming anyone. All of the photographic evidence of actual physical violence on Chinese websites shows Chinese students engaging in the violence. It is Chinese netizens who are ad-libbing by claiming that the North Korean human rights demonstrators brought the stone and tool to the rally to frame the Chinese students. It is Chinese netizens who are ad-libbing by claiming that the North Korean human rights demonstrator on the bicycle started the confrontation by hitting a student with his bike yet cannot provide any photographic proof of this.

    “The same is applicable for the Lhasa riots. Why did it happen? I am sure anyone reading this post (including you) will offer a perspective on what lead up to them.”

    I’m sure you’re wrong. Having lived a number of years in Korea, China, and Japan and having seen a large volume of photographic and video evidence from a variety of sources, I feel qualified to comment on the torch relay violence in Seoul. I have never been to Tibet, have never met a Tibetan, and have never commented in any forum about the causes of the riots.

  • Trying to be rational

    Paren wrote:
    > I haven’t seen a single photo showing a Korean demonstrator actually harming a Chinese student.

    Here are some. I don’t think I can post or link images here, so here are the links.

    An eyewitness account of the events surrounding the Chinese student’s kicking demonstrator picture:
    http://zonaeuropa.com/200805a.brief.htm#004

    The following youtube video link is from the above link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY3_tibj7Uo

    More pictures in this thread (in Chinese):
    http://cache.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/worldlook/1/177131.shtml

    The pincer and stone picture as proof of Chinese students’ violence. Who brought them to the street?

    Make your own judgment.

    I must say, good job!

  • Paren

    Trying to be rational:

    Thank you for the links, but I have seen every one of those images before.

    Holding a bicycle over one’s head isn’t harming anyone. Please noticed that the bicyclist is surrounded by students. Please also notice that the second picture shows the bicyclist talking to a man with a flag-bearing Chinese student peering over some hedges. The other man has his hand on the bicycle handlebars in an apparent attempt to stop the bicycle. This photo was obviously taken before the kicking photos since the Korean man was escorted away by the police afterward. There is also a photo of the bicycle on the ground and the tattooed Chinese kicker and the Korean man struggling for it. Once again, holding a bicycle over one’s head is not hurting anyone with it. So many photos of the incident, some taken by Chinese students, yet not one showing the man actually hitting anyone as Chinese netizens have alleged.

    As for the photos of the stone and the tool, scribbling all over the photos that the items were brought to the rally does not make it true. To the contrary, the one photo of the man in the PLA uniform was obviously taken during the rally, for a press microphone is visible in the picture.

    In the NK human rights demonstration photos, the demonstrators and Chinese students are swinging flagpoles at each other. We know from photo evidence here

    http://blog.dwnews.com/?p=36505

    that the Chinese students crossed the road from Olympic Park to confront the demonstrators, who are labeled in yellow “zd” in one of the overhead shots. We can see the police trying to hold back the students from the NK demonstrators. Judging by subsequent photos, they were unsuccessful.

    You’ve certainly made your own judgments. Can’t say you’ve done a good job.

  • Trying to be rational

    @ Paren:

    Anybody who violates the (local) law should be punished by (local) law. It is simple. I have said it before. I just wish the execution of the law is fair (including, without regard to whether you are Pro-China or Pro-Tibet or Pro-whatever). And I wish I knew all/more facts.

    I also want to say that, overall, the Chinese students/supporters could have done a better job, for the interests of China. They are not impeccable. That aside…

    > Thank you for the links, but I have seen every one of those images before.
    >
    > Holding a bicycle over one’s head isn’t harming anyone. Please noticed that the bicyclist is surrounded by students. Please also notice that the second picture shows the bicyclist talking to a man with a flag-bearing Chinese student peering over some hedges. The other man has his hand on the bicycle handlebars in an apparent attempt to stop the bicycle. This photo was obviously taken before the kicking photos since the Korean man was escorted away by the police afterward. There is also a photo of the bicycle on the ground and the tattooed Chinese kicker and the Korean man struggling for it. Once again, holding a bicycle over one’s head is not hurting anyone with it. So many photos of the incident, some taken by Chinese students, yet not one showing the man actually hitting anyone as Chinese netizens have alleged.

    It is just difficult for me to view this man’s holding a bicycle as a sign of benevolence and innocence. And you have agreed that this photo was taken before the kicking photo.

    I hope you did not miss the picture showing a bleeding Chinese supporter, probably unrelated to the kicking photo. I just tend to believe that this was not done by some Chinese supporters to frame the Pro-Tibet or NK protesters.

    > As for the photos of the stone and the tool, scribbling all over the photos that the items were brought to the rally does not make it true.

    I have nothing more to say about this.

    > To the contrary, the one photo of the man in the PLA uniform was obviously taken during the rally, for a press microphone is visible in the picture.

    Sorry, I failed to follow your logic. Your point is…?

    > In the NK human rights demonstration photos, the demonstrators and Chinese students are swinging flagpoles at each other. We know from photo evidence here
    >
    > http://blog.dwnews.com/?p=36505
    >
    > that the Chinese students crossed the road from Olympic Park to confront the demonstrators, who are labeled in yellow “zd” in one of the overhead shots. We can see the police trying to hold back the students from the NK demonstrators. Judging by subsequent photos, they were unsuccessful.

    This is pretty bad. It was wrong for the Chinese students/supporters to break the police line. (stupid, too young, too emotional, but) No excuse.

    > You’ve certainly made your own judgments. Can’t say you’ve done a good job.

    I did make my own judgments. And you did too. And feel free to make your own judgment on what I did.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.