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The Olympic Torch’s Tibetan Shadow

by @ 7:10 am on March 29, 2008. Filed under 2008 Summer Olympics, China, Foreign Affairs, Tibet

As the Olympic Torch makes it’s way around the world, it’s being shadowed by a group of protesters who will not be silenced:

The disruption of a Chinese official’s address during the Olympic torch lighting ceremonies in Greece last week was just the beginning of a string of protests planned to coincide with the torch’s trip around the globe.

Monday’s incident was “like lighting a fuse that is going to burn from now until the Olympics in Beijing,” said Paul Bourke, an officer of the Australian Tibet Council, a pro-Tibet group. The torch relay is “really giving a focus to groups like ours around the world for the next three months.”

Groups have decried China’s policies in other areas, particularly Darfur. But the pro-Tibet network, spread around the world, is more organized and interconnected than other groups, and advertising consultants and political scientists, say its influence is expected to keep the issue of autonomy and violence in Tibet front and center for weeks.

That is troubling news for sponsors of the torch relay, including Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung Electronics. Advertising analysts estimate the companies have paid as much as $15 million each to sponsor the relay.

“What started off as a small number of organizations threatening to create some disruption has escalated significantly,” said Dan Parr, the head of Asia-Pacific for brandRapport, a marketing consulting agency. “This must be taking some of the gloss off for some of these sponsors.”

Well, that’s what happens when you lie down with snakes. Sometimes, you get bit.

Meanwhile, some Tibetans have taken a different tack, here’s a picture of a group carrying what they call the Tibetan Independence Torch:

Good for them.

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