The Tiananmen Square torch fizzle*
Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) yesterday berated the Beijing Olympic organizing committee following the failure, during the much-awaited torch lighting ceremony in Tiananmen Square, to start the flame. Thousands of onlookers, including hundreds of foreign reporters, collectively gasped as Lu Xiaobing (碌小餅), a 12-year-old Chinese triathlon hopeful, tried in vain to light the Olympic torch before it embarks on its journey tomorrow, with the first stop scheduled in Almaty, Kazakhstan. After a second, equally unsuccessful attempt by Lu to light the torch, a clearly discomfited Hu promptly left the stage and was seen departing the scene in a black limousine, followed by a retinue of state security officials, police and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Xinhua news agency reported that preliminary investigations had shown that traces of diethylene glycol, commonly known as antifreeze, were found in the petrol used to light the torch. Chinese authorities refused to reveal the source of the petrol, but unofficial sources who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals said it had been provided by Sino Petrol Co, of Fujian Province, a principal sponsor of the Beijing Olympics in August.
Later yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said Beijing had intelligence indicating that an umbrella underground organization consisting of Tibetan dissidents, Taiwanese intelligence officers, Muslim Uyghur terrorists and possibly American human rights activists funded by the Japanese government may have been involved in the plot to humiliate the 1.3 billion Chinese by attacking the flame. It added that the entire thing also smacked of a plan by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to “create tensions across the Taiwan Straits [sic].” As a precautionary measure, Chinese security officials late last night “preventively” rounded up Tibetans, human rights and environmental activists and imposed a curfew on certain Beijing neighborhoods. Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China, as well as individuals who looked or sounded Japanese, were also under close observation, officials said.
“This [the antifreeze attack] is totally unacceptable,” the foreign ministry said in a press release late last night. “President Hu has been personally hurt and refuses to leave his room. He has stopped eating and, according to his wife, he will not let go of his Mao Zedong [毛澤東] doll.” Chinese children were reportedly holding a candle vigil outside the Hu residence late last night.
Meanwhile, the Taipei Times learned last night that an executive at Sino Petrol surnamed Huang had sent signals to Taiwan that he and his family were seeking to defect for fear of persecution following the torch incident. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) would not comment on the matter while president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he would consult honorary Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Lien Chan (連戰), who was on a hunting trip with co-conspirator and US Vice President Dick Cheney, on the matter.
* Happy April Fools day! Disclaimer: Every person, identified or otherwise, news organization credible or not as well as events mentioned in this entry is either fictional or, if real, did not act in ways as portrayed in this entry. No animals, torchbearers, demonstrators, workers in the oil (and antifreeze) industry, spokespersons, government officials, spouses, reporters, candle-holding children, police officers, PLA staff, Taiwanese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Japanese and Americans were injured in the process.