Olympic flame lands in China
Protests unlikely as relay reaches the mainland to start its journey across China.
Last Modified: 06 May 2008 08:48 GMT
The torch's return to China has given the Chinese people a chance to celebrate in relative peace [AFP]

The Olympic flame has arrived in mainland China after an overseas relay that has been marred by protests against Beijing's rule over Tibet.

The torch landed in the southern Chinese city of Sanya on Saturday after a leg of the relay in the former Portuguese colony of Macau.
The torch was met at the airport by Luo Baoming, the Hainan governor, a Chinese naval band, and a small cheering crowd, before being whisked away in a coach.

Little trouble is expected now the flame has reached the Chinese mainland as the communist party is unlikely to tolerate any protests.
Indeed, the weather could be the biggest threat to three month journey across China ahead of opening ceremony for the Beijing Games, with meteorologists expecting rain in the coming days.
Troubled Torch

March 24 - Human rights protesters breach security to try to disrupt the torch-lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece


March 30 - Tibet activists try to stop flame entering Athens stadium for handover to Chinese officials


April 6 - Thousands of pro-Tibet protesters line relay route through London, scuffles break out with police and 35 are arrested


April 7 – Flame extinguished at least twice during Paris relay, forcing the torch-carrier onto a bus to escape protesters


April 9 - San Francisco abruptly changes torch route fearing clashes between pro-Tibet protesters and pro-China counter-protesters


April 17New Delhi deploys 15,000 police and security guards during radically shortened relay through Indian capital. Dozens of Tibetan exiles arrested


April 19 – 2,000 police protect Bangkok relay as crowd of about 200 China supporters taunt scores of pro-Tibet demonstrators

Nevertheless, organisers and police in Sanya said that security measures were being taken for the torch's arrival but refused to give details.

Media access to the torch's arrival was limited to three Chinese outlets.

"Even if no police were here, we would protect the torch with our bodies!" an 18-year-old vendor selling Chinese flags near the stage where the torch was to be lit Sunday morning said.

Basketball star Yi Jianlian and actor Jackie Chan were to be among the 208 people carrying the torch.
In Macau on Saturday, pro-China supporters waved flags and chanted "Go, go Beijing".

Columns of paramilitary police in sportswear jogged beside the torch bearers.
Al Jazeera and agencies
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