China on the back foot

THE Olympic Games are a phenomenon big enough to have a self-momentum that carries them through, but China's worst fears have been realised as incidents of violence and bombings appear side by side with the Olympics on the front pages.

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Published: Mon 11 Aug 2008, 9:59 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

So, even after preparing for years, fine-tuning each and every thing time and again, struggling with the clock to complete arrangements in time, putting together perhaps the most complicated and comprehensive security system ever known, Beijing could not avoid embarrassment as nay-sayers cry 'we told you so' in glee.

The Xinjiang violence is particularly telling. No doubt there is a strong hand of the spreading extremists that Beijing has been growing worried about over the last few years. With the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan becoming more precarious by the day, it was only natural for their Chinese neighbours to be disturbed by it sooner or later.

In hindsight, it hardly comes as a surprise that the militants timed their presence side by side with the Olympics. While immediate international attention continues to revolve around the Games, political circles must already have started weighing the prospect of visible Chinese presence in war-on-terror jurisdiction. News reports have often suggested under the table Chinese warnings to neighbours struggling with extremist that the activity must never spill over into communist China. Yet since as far back as the heyday of the Taleban, tips of China were always in contact with the soldier/clerics of a bygone age, and slowly but steadily their influence was making a headway deep inside Chinese territory.

Again, as with all parties struggling to control the outpour of the war, China's response must be one of restraint, at least initially. The war already carries one too many story of hasty exchanges that could never subside.

We appreciate that it is extremely important for the Games to go forward uninterrupted. However, we also understand the chilling consequences of what is building as cameras are turned to swimmers, runners and athletes. The war's dynamics are changing, it is important for those running it to be up to evolving developments.

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