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PM bans Chinese guards from torch run

April 8, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Australia, April 7 - Chinese security guards will be banned from
escorting the Olympic torch when it comes to Australia this month, Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd says.

A phalanx of Chinese security officials dressed in blue and white
Beijing Olympic tracksuits surrounded various British athletes as they
carried the torch on a chaotic run through London yesterday.

Protesters angry about China's treatment of Tibet disrupted the torch
relay several times, with the Chinese security guards and local police
struggling to keep them at bay.

At least 35 protesters were arrested, which Chinese officials branding
the action "vile behaviour".

Mr Rudd said Australia was more than capable of protecting the torch and
there would be no need for China to send its own security team to guard
it in Canberra.

"As the attorney-general said in Australia some weeks ago, we will not
be having Chinese security forces or Chinese security services providing
security for the torch when it is in Australia," Mr Rudd told reporters
during a joint press conference at 10 Downing Street with British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown.

"We, Australia, are providing that security.

"What Olympic officials the Chinese bring to Canberra is a matter for
them but on the security front, we will be providing that."

Mr Rudd's comments came as Australia considered shortening the torch
relay route in Canberra, amid security fears.

Changing the route was discussed amongst organisers and the Australian
Federal Police (AFP), and not at the request of Chinese officials, a
spokeswoman for ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said.

"It's a normal part of the process to try to ensure the torch relay, as
it makes its way to through Canberra, is secure," she told AAP.

Any reconfiguration would ensure federal police were able to provide
maximum security for the 80 Australian torchbearers.

"The government (also) takes veryCanberra relay task force chairman Ted
Quinlan said he feared the London protests could spark a "rolling and
growing movement" where activists seek to outdo each other in an effort
to steal the limelight.

"My concern is that by the time it gets here, there have been a whole
series of protests and that's really all everybody is expecting for the
day," he said.

"Of course, we're observing what's happening world-wide day by day and
making appropriate plans."

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, in Beijing for a
three-day meeting of National Olympic Committee heads, said security for
the torch was the responsibility of the AFP.

"We hope that the protests are peaceful, but we have every confidence in
the AFP to ensure the safe journey of the torch," he said.

ACT Tibetan community president Tsering Deki said her group was planning
to protest in Canberra when the torch arrives on April 24, but did not
support the violent action seen in London.

"We will be protesting and we plan to be loud, but peaceful," she said.

Despite calls for him to snub the Chinese over the country's crackdown
on pro-democracy protesters in Tibet, Mr Brown welcomed the torch when
it arrived at Downing Street.

However, he did not hold or touch it as it was handed between
heptathlete Denise Lewis and paralympian Ali Jawad.

Asked by reporters if he would hold the torch when it arrives in
Canberra, Mr Rudd said he would be at a function in Sydney while Sports
Minister Kate Ellis officiates at the Olympic event.

"Britain's circumstances are obviously somewhat different," Mr Rudd said.

"They are hosting the next Olympics (in 2012) and I think that places
their circumstances in a somewhat different context to perhaps a number
of other participant states."

Mr Rudd has not yet confirmed if he will attend the Games opening
ceremony, but has ruled out Australia boycotting the event over the
Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Both he and Mr Brown repeated their calls today for more dialogue
between supporters of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dali Lama, and
Chinese authorities and downplayed calls for countries to boycott the Games.

"Our position, as with the British government and others, is that there
needs to be a renewed process of dialogue between the Dali's
representatives and reps of the Chinese government," Mr Rudd said.

"It's my general view that these things at the level of the Olympics,
don't work."
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