My son is studying for his PhD in Canberra. One interesting little tidbit he relayed to me is that it is widely known in amongst the national security services of the various organs of the Australian government that the various Chinese Student Associations (CSA's) are controlled by the Chinese equivalent of the Secret Police or Secret Service to actively monitor the activities of their citizens studying abroad.
In this case it seems to have gone a little further with the CSA's organizing huge rallies (20,000 Chinese student bused into Canberra, the capital of Australia, pop 300,000) to effectively drown out Tibetan protesters and also to monitor Tibetans (for what purposes one can only imagine).
Whilst I firmly support free speech and the right to protest, one cannot help but think that this crosses the line between the right to protest and agitation by a foreign government in another country. That said, I'm fairly certain that many of the Chinese students attending the rally would have been there out of legitimate nationalistic feelings that Han Chinese seem to associate with them own 'race'.
Death to racism and intimidation in all it's forms!
Chinese students bully torch crowds
Paul Maley | April 25, 2008
GANGS of Chinese students have marred the Australian leg of the Olympic torch relay, assaulting, intimidating and harassing vastly outnumbered pro-Tibetan activists as the torch was carried through Canberra's streets.
Last night, the ACT Government proclaimed the event an "outstanding success" after managing to avoid the violence that has marked the flame's passage through Europe and the US.
"This is the 14th stop of the Beijing Olympic torch relay ... and it's the first successful relay that's been run," ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said.
While the majority of the crowd was peaceful, there was sporadic violence during yesterday's 16km run. Seven people were arrested - five pro-China supporters and two pro-Tibetans. Early in the relay, one man jumped a barrier and sat cross-legged in the torch's path, only to be quickly bundled away by police.
And in what was described as an example of poor communication between Australian authorities and paramilitary flame attendants, members of the police security detail were forced to push aside Chinese security guards early in the run after they attempted to run inside the phalanx of Australian Federal Police officers surrounding the flame.
While the torch carriers were allowed to travel unmolested through the streets, dozens of Tibetan activists were assaulted or intimidated by highly organised groups of Chinese students who flocked from around the country to support the relay.
In one incident witnessed by The Australian, brothers John and Nick Price were forced to jump a barricade to escape a gang of young Chinese men who attacked them after they attempted to walk down Anzac Parade with a Free Tibet banner.
"We were being pushed and spat on, abused. We were kicked in the back and punched. We were hit with flagpoles. They pushed me to the ground," John Price said.
The Chinese members of the crowds became angry when a plane skywriting the words "free Tibet", bankrolled by Greens senator Bob Brown, crossed the sky.
The relay began at 8.50am when 2007 Young Australian of the Year Tania Major carried the flame to a rowing scull that took it across Lake Burley Griffin.
It was greeted by thousands of Chinese supporters waving flags, chanting slogans and singing the Chinese national anthem. It then proceeded back past Parliament House and the War Memorial, before travelling down Canberra's main thoroughfare where there were numerous skirmishes.
The Chinese contingent, estimated by police to be between 7500 and 10,000, appeared well organised, arriving before dawn in a convoy of buses mostly from Sydney and Melbourne.
Chinese marshals mustered the students via two-way radio. By contrast, pro-Tibetan groups numbered about 2000, police said. At least 550 police were called on to control the crowd of 20,000.
Referring to reports the Chinese embassy had been involved in organising the students, Mr Stanhope said he was aware of "contact" between the embassy and some of the Chinese groups.
While the torch's journey was unmolested, the flame was twice extinguished. The torch went out briefly when it arrived on the northern side of Lake Burley Griffin and then most spectacularly at the end of the relay the Olympic cauldron went out, having been lit by swimming great Ian Thorpe only moments earlier. Last night, the Olympic flame left Canberra for the next leg of its journey in Nagano, Japan.