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火炬接力“插曲”多 中国民众情激愤

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The relay carrying the Olympic torch to Beijing for this summer's Olympic Games has quickly turned into a gantlet of criticism that is angering ordinary Chinese who feel their country is being treated unfairly.

As thousands of French police struggled to keep the Olympic torch moving -- and lit -- through throngs of anti-China protesters in Paris before canceling the last stretch on Monday, people on the streets of Shanghai and Beijing were voicing increasing anger and rising nationalism.

'Chinese people should all be indignant,' said Du Chunhua, who works for a trading company in the Chinese capital. 'I think it's really bad that they are trying to ruin such a peaceful event.'

It is becoming clear that the Olympics, envisioned by the Chinese government as a kind of international coming-out party to celebrate China's rapid economic growth and its growing role on the world stage, is instead posing a major challenge to the nation's image.

And an event that many had hoped would help Westerners to better understand China and give China a better understanding of the West, is instead laying bare the sharply divergent views of each side.

The trouble in Paris came a day after the torch made a difficult journey through a snowy London, where a protester managed to break through security and momentarily grip the torch. On Wednesday, it arrives in San Francisco, where activists have spent months planning protests.

The scene in Paris on Monday was chaotic. At one point, the torch appeared unlit while being carried by a woman in a wheelchair. Moments later organizers placed the torch inside a bus transporting Chinese officials, and police on in-line skates surrounded the vehicle as it continued along the route.

A police spokeswoman said the torch was extinguished at least once during the relay. The actual flame, which was lit in Olympia, Greece, in late March, remained burning inside a lantern in the bus as a backup.

The torch protests in London and Paris have been fueled by events in Tibet, where peaceful demonstrations that began in early March turned into violence that met with a forceful Chinese government response.

But those speaking and acting out against the torch relay and China's hosting of the Olympics also criticize China's overall human-rights record, as well as its ties to repressive regimes such as Sudan and Myanmar.

Jean Pierre Bonville, a 59-year-old lawyer from Belgium, traveled to Paris with his 12-year-old son to protest. 'This is not just about Tibet; it's about the right to freedom in general,' he said.

Many, if not most, Chinese, however, see their country as freer -- and more prosperous -- than at any time in their lifetimes. For them, the Games are seen as a celebration of their economic, political and social progress.

At least some of the demonstrations have been blocked from broadcasts in China of the torch relay, particularly interruptions in the lighting of the torch in Athens. But as the protests have gone on, they are being reported in the Chinese press, though often not very promptly and generally blamed only on Tibetan separatists.

The protesters 'should come here and see for themselves,' said Han Hailing, 26, an urban planner in Beijing. 'They don't understand what's going on here. But you can't blame them either. They're getting wrong information from the media.'

Ms. Han said that 'every government has its problems,' but added: 'I have to say the Chinese government is right' on the way it is handling Tibet. 'The government has already invested a lot' in Tibet and other ethnic-minority areas, she said.

Such sentiments have drawn ethnic Chinese to the defense of China and the torch. In Paris, Tibetan protesters faced off in a shouting match with China supporters waving the country's red-and-gold national flag and chanting 'Bravo, Beijing.'

Shen Shuang, a 27-year-old woman from China, said she traveled to Paris from Marseille to show her support for the Beijing Olympics. With her face painted with Chinese flags, she ran alongside the convoy dodging protesters who blew whistles at her. 'I can keep this up all day,' she said.

As the torch traveled from the Eiffel Tower along the Seine River, hundreds of activists draped in Tibet flags poured into the street chanting 'Free Tibet,' trying to block the route.

Large vans and trucks helped clear a path for the torch through the crowds as police clad in heavy shoulder and arm pads locked arms with shouting protesters and forced some to the ground. A group of Chinese guards in tracksuits ran alongside the flame, forming a protective bubble.

Despite the tightly coordinated security effort, authorities were forced to take further precautions as several protesters broke through the police wall to get within steps of the embattled torch.

Part of what made the protests so difficult to contain was their scale -- both large and small. Members of the Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders managed to climb a section of the Eiffel Tower and unfurl a giant banner that depicted the Olympic rings as interlocking handcuffs.

Yolaine De La Bigne, a torchbearer, wore an armband depicting the Tibetan flag as she received the torch. Chinese guards who were running alongside her ripped the band off her arm as soon she tried to display it, she says.

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympics on Monday criticized protesters who tried to disrupt the relay in London. 'A few Tibetan separatists attempted to sabotage the torch relay in London, and we strongly denounce their disgusting behavior,' Mr. Sun said.

For many Chinese, who read about the protests and see images online, the troubles with the torch relay seem very far from the reality of China as they perceive it. China this year is marking the 30th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's decision to turn away from central planning and toward markets and to reopen China to the rest of the world. These ever-accelerating changes have transformed China from a Communist backwater to the world's fourth-largest economy.

Cheng Hongyu, a 25-year-old French-language student, says the protesters 'don't live here. From their perspective they are seeing problems, but they don't see the whole picture.' She continued: 'I think in general, the direction the government is taking is good. The government only wants improvements for Tibet and the Tibetan people.'

Online commentary has tended to be nationalistic and to argue that the coming Olympics are being used to bolster the cause of an independent Tibet. 'These destructive activities by the foreign forces of Tibet independence are really outrageous,' wrote one person in a popular Chinese chat room for political and social issues. 'Making ordinary Chinese angry is more dangerous than p- off the government.'

Some Chinese have taken matters into their own hands, launching campaigns of harassing phone calls and email against Tibetan human-rights campaigners and China-based foreign correspondents covering the recent unrest in Tibetan areas.

Many Chinese don't understand why the outside world fails to see the incredible progress that their country has made over the course of their lives.

'First of all, it's still a small group of people trying to screw up the event. And obviously there are political motives behind it,' says Han Hongyi, 36, who works at a human-resources-consulting company, and said he read about the protests online. 'It's unfair to most of the Chinese people. We have been looking forward to the Olympics for a long time.'

2008年北京奥运会的火炬接力活动正迅速演变为某些人宣泄不满情绪的场所,这激怒了普通中国民众,他们觉得自己的国家受到了不公正的对待。

当奥运圣火在巴黎传递时,沿途聚集了大量反华人士,法国警方需尽力维持现场秩序才能护送圣火顺利传递,并保证它不被扑灭。不过周一,圣火在巴黎的最后一程传递还是被临时取消了。这些“插曲”在上海和北京两地的市民中引发了日益高涨的愤怒和民族主义情绪。

就职于北京一家贸易公司的杜春华(音)说,所有的中国人都应该感到愤慨,那些人想破坏如此平和的一项活动,太坏了。

中国政府原打算将本届奥运会办成一项国际性盛会,借此展示中国快速发展的经济以及它愈加重要的国际影响,然而如今看来,奥运契机却产生了负面效应,给中国的国家形像带来了巨大挑战。

一项许多人本以为可以增进中西方相互理解的活动,而今却赤裸裸地展示着双方间难以弥合的意见鸿沟。

就在火炬传递活动在巴黎遭遇麻烦的前一天,伦敦的火炬接力活动同样遇到不顺:一名抗议者试图冲破安保人员夺走火炬。周三奥运圣火将抵达旧金山,这可能又是一个是非之地,活动分子的行事计划早已筹备了数月。

周一发生在巴黎的一幕显得有些混乱。一名女性火炬手坐在轮椅中手持火炬时,火苗似乎并未在燃烧。过后组织者又将火炬送往一辆载有中方官员的车上,警察则穿着溜冰鞋护卫车辆继续沿传递线路行进。

一名警方发言人说,传递期间火炬至少熄灭过一次。而3月底在希腊奥林匹亚点燃的火种实际上还在车上的一只灯笼里燃烧着,以备不时之需。

不久前在西藏发生的事件助长了伦敦、巴黎两地针对奥运火炬接力的抗议活动。始于三月初的西藏和平示威后来演变为一场暴力骚乱,中国政府对骚乱作出了强有力的回应。

除此之外,反对火炬接力和中国主办奥运的呼声和行为还将矛头指向了中国的整体人权纪录,以及它与苏丹、缅甸等专制政权的联系。

比利时59岁的律师让•皮埃尔•本维依(Jean Pierre Bonville)带着12岁的儿子来到巴黎参加抗议活动。“这不仅仅是西藏问题,它事关全部自由权利,”他说。

不过对许多中国人来说,如今中国社会所享有的自由氛围以及这个国家的繁荣程度都是他们以往未曾体验过的。对他们而言,奥运会就好似一场庆祝盛会,庆祝他们在经济、政治和社会领域取得的各项进步。

火炬接力中出现的这些“不和谐音”在中国媒体的报导中被“屏蔽”了,尤其是在雅典点燃奥运圣火的活动上出现的抗议画面更是被断然截去。但随着抗议活动的不断涌现,中国媒体开始予以报导,只不过报导的时间往往不是那么及时,而且通常只是将矛头指向藏独分子。

26岁的韩海灵(音)是北京的一名城市规划人员,她谈到,抗议者应该来这儿亲眼看看,他们不知道这里的情况,不过这也不能怪他们,他们被媒体误导了。

这位韩女士说,每个政府都有它的问题,但她想说的是中国政府处理西藏问题的方法是正确的。她还说,政府向西藏和其他少数民族地区投入了大量资金。

正是这种情绪促使海内外华人出头维护中国和奥运火炬接力活动。火炬在巴黎传递时,西藏抗议者与挥舞着五星红旗、口呼“北京加油”的爱国人士撕破颜面,双方大打口水战。

27岁的中国女子沈双(音)说她为了支持北京奥运会专程从马赛来到巴黎。她不仅把国旗画在脸上,还一路小跑跟随着火炬护卫人员,无视沿途抗议者的口哨声。“我能一天都这样跑下去,”她说。

当火炬从艾菲尔铁塔出发,沿着塞纳河行进时,数百人手持藏独旗帜涌向街道,他们高呼着“自由西藏”的口号,试图阻止火炬传递进程。

大货车和卡车在前方开路,帮助火炬闯过拥挤的人群。另一边,警方身穿厚厚的的防护服维持着现场秩序,他们扭住抗议者的胳膊,将其中一些人按倒在地。与此同时,来自中国的保卫人员身着运动服跟在火炬旁,形成了一个防护圈。

尽管采取了严格的安全措施,但现场不时发生的意外事件仍不得不让有关方面加强戒备。传递过程中,几名抗议者冲破警方组成的人墙,当时距离火炬仅几步之遥。

这些抗议活动之所以难以控制,部分原因在于其规模──既有大范围的抗议也有小规模的零星活动。总部设在巴黎的人权组织记者无国界(Reporters Without Borders)的成员还爬上了艾菲尔铁塔,并打出一面巨大横幅,将奥运五环画成了五个相互扣联的手铐。

火炬手比聂(Yolaine De La Bigne)接过火炬时戴上了一枚印有藏独旗帜的臂章。她回忆说,就在自己准备伸手展示时,跟随左右的中方护卫人员赶紧将臂章扯了下来。

北京奥组委发言人孙维德周一对试图扰乱火炬接力伦敦站活动的抗议者提出了指责。他指出,少数藏独分子企图破坏奥运火炬在伦敦的传递活动,对他们的可耻行径我们予以强烈谴责。

在许多从网上获知抗议事件的中国人眼中,火炬传递遭遇的种种麻烦似乎和他们印象里的中国现实相去甚远。今年是中国实行改革开放的第三十个年头。几十年来中国社会发生了翻天覆地的变化,曾经的一潭死水如今已跃升为全球第四大经济体。

25岁的程红宇(音)是一名法语专业学生,她说抗议者并没有生活在这儿,他们只是从他们的角度看到了问题,其实没有看到问题的全貌。她还说,总的来说,政府的施政方向是正确的,政府只是想发展西藏,改善西藏人民的生活。

近日来,网络留言充满民族主义情绪,多数网民认为奥运会被用来充当了藏独运动的工具。在一个讨论政治、社会话题的国内热门聊天室里,一位网民写道:外国势力发起的藏独破坏活动太可恶了;激怒中国民众要比颠覆政府更可怕。

有些中国人的确已开始有所行动,他们向西藏人权人士和报导西藏骚乱的驻华外国记者发起抗议,拨打骚扰电话或是发送骚扰邮件。

令许多中国人不解的是,外部世界为何就看不见中国这几十年来所取得的非凡成就。

供职于一家人力资源咨询公司的韩宏毅(音)说,首先,想搞破坏的只是那么一小群人,而且很明显这背后隐藏有某种政治目的。他说自己是从网上知道这些抗议事件的。“这对大多数中国人来说不公平,我们盼奥运已经盼了好久了,”36岁的韩宏毅说道。
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