China to maintain order along relay route
China has ordered local authorities to crack down on “illegal activities” on roads along the Olympic torch relay route as it braces for the return of the trouble-plagued flame next month, state media said.
The Public Security Ministry had also ordered authorities to take “substantial and effective means to ensure traffic order”, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
The report did not specify what “illegal activities” were to be targeted but China has already specified tight security for the torch relay's two Tibetan legs.
The chairman of Tibet’s communist government, Qiangba Puncog, said earlier on Wednesday he expected “trouble” when the relay passes through the Himalayan region, but nevertheless vowed a safe and peaceful event.
The torch relay is a “once-in-a-century” opportunity for activists advocating Tibetan independence to attract publicity that they would not miss, he said in Beijing. “Therefore they wish to create major trouble or incidents, and I don’t doubt they will create trouble during the torch relay in Tibet,” he said.
China has launched a heavy crackdown on a vast area of the Tibetan plateau following widespread anti-China rioting last month. The international torch relay officially began on April 2, when the flame left Beijing.
After completing the international portion on May 4, the torch will pass through Tibet in early May to go up Mount Everest, and then again when it goes through Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, in June.