In Greece yesterday, the Olympic torch was lit and the ceremony was briefly interrupted by members of the Athens chapter of Reporters Without Borders. It was broadcast live by Greek television, but China state television cut away to a prerecorded scene. In “Olympic Event: Protests Kick Off The Torch Relay,” The Wall Street Journal reports:
“The gold-medal venue on the activists’ calendar is San Francisco, the Olympic torch’s only stop in North America when it arrives April 9. There, activists are expected to oppose a long menu of Chinese policies, including what they call repression in Tibet and Beijing’s support of oppressive regimes in Sudan and Myanmar. Demonstrators plan to take up banners on behalf of Taiwan and the spiritual group Falun Gong.”
The newspaper goes on to report what the coalition of Dafur groups are doing, as well as The Burmese American Democratic Alliance (plans an aerial event with a plane to tow a “Free Burma” banner” as well as lead a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (possibly stopping lanes of traffic), and Students for a Free Tibet, (launching dozens of helium balloons carrying signs as well as placing banners on high-profile structures around San Francisco – possibly the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and/or the Transamerica Pyramid).
For the life of me, I don’t see how the Chinese picked San Francisco as the only city in the United States to do the torch relay – they might have as well picked Berkeley. I think Los Angeles would be a “safer” choice in regards to local activists protesting against the Chinese government. Then again, any city in the United States would be ground zero for anti-Chinese activists. I can only imagine what it will be like if the protesters steal the day from the Olympic Torch relay – a huge embarrassment to the Chinese and a diplomatic nightmare for the United States. But the Chinese can only censor their country’s media, not the rest of the free world’s.