Thousands of youths chanted "Play up China" with the Chinese national flags in hand and red-heart signs on face on a rainy Saturday in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, to celebrate the Olympic torch relay.
They also denounced separatism activities by the Dalai Lama clique, who sabotaged the relay in foreign countries.
The scene was familiar to the world, as it had been occurred during protests against "Tibet independence" and the national mourning for the deceased in the May earthquake.
"Play Up China" was also inscribed on the back of many people's T-shirts on Saturday. The audience chanted "Good Luck Beijing" and "Good Luck Olympic Games" as well.
Actually, many youths began to gather at the Potala Palace, holding national and Olympic flags, to celebrate the relay on Friday evening.
The Beijing Olympic torch was carried from Norbu Lingka to Potala Palace by 156 bearers in Lhasa on Saturday.
Gangbung, 72, ran the first leg in front of the Norbu Lingka, which means "treasure park" in Tibetan, at 9:10 a.m. following a one-minute silence tribute to those killed in a deadly earthquake that hit southwest China's Sichuan on May 12.
However, security was tight in Lhasa for fears of sabotage activities by the Dalai clique.
Palma Trily, executive vice chairman of Tibet, said police have been deployed to ensure security during the relay, but there was none from the People's Liberation Army (PLA), as "the duty of the PLA is to guard the frontier and protect the territory."
"If anyone dares to interrupt, we would fight him," said Zhong Sheng, manager of a local company. "Today, backers of 'Tibet independence' do not have the strength to sabotage the relay."
"Through the relay, I hope people will see that Lhasa has returned to its normal days and they will visit here again," said Dawa Yangzom, a 32-year-old teacher at Tibet University who was picked to be a torch bearer.
She said she felt heart-breaking when seeing the Lhasa city was in unrest on May 14, as shops were looted and set ablaze and innocent people killed by mobsters.
Another torch bearer Losang Cering, a Lhasa doctor, was badly injured by rioters on March 14 when he tried to rescue a father and his son, both from the Han ethnic group.
Losang Cering said "the Dalai tries to separate Tibet from China, which is not what a Buddhist should do." He said he would accept the Dalai's return only if the Dalai gives up ideas of separatism and stops activities targeting Tibet's stability.
Whether the Dalai Lama could settle in Tibet depends on his own attitude, said Palma Trily when meeting a 50-strong delegation of journalists on Friday evening.
The riot, which was believed to have been organized, premeditated and masterminded by the backers of the Dalai Lama, erupted in downtown Lhasa on March 14, leaving seven schools, five hospitals and 120 homes torched and 908 shops looted. Total damage was more than 244 million yuan.
The riot also left 18 innocent civilians and one police officer dead, and 382 civilians and 241 policemen were injured.
(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2008)