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from India Insight:

Is India bending over backwards to please China?

India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the government of a "craven" and "slavish" attitude to China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (L) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee before their meeting in New Delhi February 13, 2007. REUTERS/B Mathur (INDIA) The BJP and others argue that the coalition government has failed to prevent repeated Chinese incursions along the disputed border, from Ladakh in the northwest to Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.

And by trying to muzzle the Dalai Lama and close down Delhi during the Olympic torch relay, it has shown weakness, which will only encourage China to throw its weight around more.

There is also concern about the modernisation of the Chinese army, and the steady improvement of road and rail links in Tibet which are altering the military balance of power. Then there is talk of fresh Chinese claims to the northern tip of Sikkim.

from India Insight:

Another Himalayan kingdom tumbles, but will Nepal miss its monarchy?

Another Himalayan kingdom is falling, a chapter closing on an ancient historical tradition. But will the modern system of democracy do a better job?

Sikkim's monarchs, the Chogyals, retreated into history when India annexed their territory in 1975. Tibet's "priest-king", the Dalai Lama, was forced in exile when China invaded his land in the 1950s.

from FaithWorld:

China’s Religious Character May Be Deeper Than Thought

china-2.jpgThe light being cast on China by the coming Summer Games is far brighter than the flickering Olympic flame now wending its way across that vast country. Politics, society, human rights, the status of Tibet and even the environment have been widely discussed.

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Now a window has been opened on faith and religion in a country where six decades of Communist philosophy and rule might seem to have pushed those subjects into obscurity.

from Changing China:

Day 14 – Mission accomplished

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The Beijing Olympic torch is held aloft at the top of Mount Everest on Thursday in this image taken from television footage.

rtr20b7d_comp.jpg Three months to the day before the Games open, members of a 31-strong team reached the top of the 8,848-metre (29,030-ft) peak carrying the Olympic flame in a lantern before lighting the torch.

from Changing China:

Nick (& Mark & Dave), the torch and Everest – Day 13

rtr209tx_comp.jpgIf the word around camp is anything to go by, the final assault on the summit of Everest will begin in the early hours of Thursday morning. Journalists and accompanying officials have spent much of the day taking souvenir photos and snapping up post cards at the "world's highest post office".

The rumours would appear to be based on nothing more than collective will (or hysteria, perhaps).

from Changing China:

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 12

At an early press conference today the novel inclusion of information we hadn't heard before briefly raised spirits in what has become quite a downbeat media camp.

As the weekend snowstorms destroyed the careful preparations the Chinese had made on the mountain and a second week in Tibet became an inevitability, there has been a lot of talk about going home. Not just from journalists, either. Many of the officials who travelled with us from Beijing or joined us at Lhasa airport barely attempt to disguise their low spirits any more. I don't know whether the cause is the altitude, the cold, the increasingly predictable diet, the lack of showers or just day after day of telling news-hungry journalists that there is no news. One of the senior officials told me again today that he thought we were getting "closer and closer" to "our goal", while another said he thought our fond farewells would not be not too far away.

from Changing China:

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest- Day 10

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The foreign media contingent was moved from the huts to rooms inside the media centre late on Saturday evening, due to to the extreme weather. It was welcome, and much warmer. It seems it was by way of compensation for not taking us back to a hotel for a shower and a night in a proper bed, as we had requested. After the recent snow, the roads were apparently too dangerous.

One man who did get away was Joerg Brase of German television. Joerg had been suffering with high blood pressure ever since our arrival at the foot of Everest.

from Changing China:

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 9

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I heard excited cries outside our hut this morning and the optimist in me immediately thought the climbers had reached the summit of Everest with the Olympic torch.

A warm bath, clean clothes and bedding were only a matter of hours away, I thought, as I poked my nose over the top of my sleeping bag into the icy cold.

from Photographers' Blog:

Stuck at the base of Everest

Day 8 - After travelling 4 days from Lhasa Airport, and spending 4 days at 5200 metres, we are all feeling the effects of altitude but mostly suffering from frustration at the lack of information about the Olympic torch. Mark Chisolm, Reuters Cameraman and Producer, Nick Mulvenney, Reuters Correspondent and myself travelled from Beijing on April 25 to Tibet to cover the Olympic torch's ascent of Mount Everest.       We are currently at a make-shift press centre located near Everest Base Camp. Facilities consist of an extremely good media centre, with amazingly fast internet, a press conference room, that doesn't provide the media with any information (but I will get onto that later), small basic cabins that offer fairly comfortable beds but are just plain freezing, a dining room with excellent food, and last but certainly not least, the toilet block. Oh wow!! I cannot even begin the try and find the words... so I will leave it at that.

 Reuters staffers

Mountainmen Chisholm, Gray and Mulvenney.

The altitude is a major factor in everything we do. It affects each person differently. Some have a very low percentage of oxygen in their bloodstream, some have a very high heart-rate, some get high blood pressure, many get severe headaches, others stomach problems. But all get breathless after walking just 20 metres and all are very tired. But the effects of altitude are not consistent, and even somebody who has travelled frequently to and from high altitude react differently each time. So the fact that the three of us have managed to feel ok after our schedule of travelling from Beijing, situated at a height of just 50 metres above sea level, to Everest Base Camp at a height of 5200 metres in just 4 days, does make us feel like we have achieved something, even before we have produced any stories. But this is not to say we are in the clear. Acute altitude sickness can hit anytime, even once you are back at normal levels, so we are extremely wary of this achievement.

from FaithWorld:

Can China and the Vatican make beautiful music together?

World Team Table Tennis Championships in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, 2 March 2008/Bobby YipRemember ping-pong diplomacy, the exchange of ping-pong players between the United States and communist China in the 1970s that was one of the first steps that led to a thaw in relations between the two countries? If the Vatican had a ping-pong team, perhaps China would have considered sending their squad to the walled city in Rome for a match.

But the Vatican does not have a ping-pong team, as far as we know. So, the next best thing appears to be music. This week, Vatican Radio made a surprise announcement on its daily 2 p.m. bulletin. The China Philharmonic Orchestra of Beijing and the Shanghai Opera House Chorus will perform Mozart's Requiem for Pope Benedict on May 7 in the Vatican's audience hall, adding a stop to its already scheduled European tour.

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