The Olympic Torch Hits London: Fair and Balanced Coverage by Chinese News Media?

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The Olympic Torch arrived in London yesterday. Here’s what the People’s Daily had to say (full story here):

Olympic flame crosses London amid snow
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08:39, April 07, 2008

The heavy snow in London exerted slim effect on people’s passion of seeing Beijing Olympic flame as large crowds lined along the street to greet the relay of torch on Sunday in the host city of 2012 Games.

London boasted the longest relay of nearly 50 kilometers among cities outside China’s mainland. Eighty torchbearers, including Paralympics, Olympic athletes and celebrities carried the torch through ten London boroughs from Wembley to Greenwich. Landmark buildings and ancient sites witnessed the sacred flame.

Dragon and lion dancing performance dressed up the Chinatown like a festival. Large groups of Chinese in squares or concentration point waited the flame hours before its arrival.

Quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower from Marlow Bottom SteveRedgrave initiated the relay within the Wembley Stadium.

Redgrave just criticized the binding of Olympics and politics days before the relay.

And so on. No mention of anything but sweetness and light, cheering crowds of apple cheeked Britons braving the snow etc. Here, in contrast, is what the London tabloid the Daily Mail had to say (full story here, with pics):

What an advert for London 2012: Our Olympic showpiece ends in violence and farce
By SAM GREENHILL, BEN BROGAN, LUCY BALLINGER, OLINKA KOSTER and VANESSA ALLEN – More by this author » Last updated at 08:34am on 7th April 2008

Surrounded by a phalanx of Chinese security guards, British athlete Denise Lewis carries the Olympic torch into a Downing Street besieged by protesters.

The relay event through the capital had been billed as a journey of harmony and peace – not to mention a showcase for the London Games in 2012.

It turned into a combination of sinister and slapstick which did Britain no favours in the eyes of the world.

n bizarre scenes, Chinese security guards and hundreds of police fought running battles with protesters against the plight of Tibet.

Terrified athletes and celebrities carrying the torch were forced to run for cover.

Downing Street was privately furious as the embarrassing fiasco – costing £1million and likened to “Chinese police state tactics” in London – was beamed around the world on TV.

Because of the demonstrators, 35 of whom were arrested, the torch had to be escorted by jogging Metropolitan Police officers alongside the mysterious private army of Chinese guards.

Wearing blue tracksuits, the hired ‘thugs’ barged protesters out the way and even shoved spectators in Downing Street, where the torch was greeted by Gordon Brown.

As the surreal circus made its way through London, no one seemed able to prevent campaigners launching wave after wave of attack.

Flashpoints included Downing Street and outside the British Museum where more than 2,000 activists massed to protest China’s role in Tibet.

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq was almost knocked to the ground as a demonstrator tried to snatch the torch from her.

Elsewhere, as 100 protesters besieged the parade on Fleet Street, the torchbearing party was forced to stage a “breakout” using a London bus to reach the safety of St Paul’s Cathedral, where the procession resumed on foot.

Security was progressively stepped up until more than 50 police officers wearing heavy stabproof vests were taking part in the bizarre marathon.

“Violence and Farce” indeed. The television footage of course is much more dramatic than even the spirited account by the Mail. Paris is next, where there are bound to be more protests Meanwhile reports have started to surface of another confrontation over the weekend that saw Tibetan protesters shot in Sichaun Province. As ever, impossible to confirm what really happened. And, as it now looks more and more likely that reporters won’t be allowed in the Tibetan areas of China until after the Olympics, so it will be a long time, if ever, before the truth comes out.

Whatever the case though, such reports are bound to further inflame the protesters abroad, who obviously feel they have nothing to lose by putting pressure on China in the lead up to the games. If things get really ugly, they may have to cancel or severely cutback parts of the torch route. The biggest losers of course will be the ordinary Chinese people, who are justifiably proud of hosting the Olympics and who will be (are) understandably bitter that the event is already being marred. All this makes it even more difficult to figure out what the cadres in Beijing were thinking, knowing full well they would be the target of every activist with a grudge in the months leading up to the Games. Didn’t they have a plan other than sending in the troops and pretending nothing was happening?