Olympic torch gets safe passage in Vietnam

The Olympic torch was paraded through the streets of Vietnam’s largest city to cheers from thousands of onlookers today, marking the final leg of an international tour that has been dogged by protests against China.

The Olympic torch was paraded through the streets of Vietnam’s largest city to cheers from thousands of onlookers today, marking the final leg of an international tour that has been dogged by protests against China.

Many of the supporters chanting as the flame passed through Ho Chi Min City were flag-waving Chinese citizens either working or studying in the country.

Security along the route was tight and there were no signs of protesters.

Earlier in the capital Hanoi police detained several people after they unfurled an anti-China banner and shouting “Boycott the Beijing Olympics” in a market.

Vietnam has assured its communist ally and giant northern neighbour it will not allow demonstrators to disrupt the parade. Students had threatened to protest China’s claim to the disputed Spratly Islands.

Scores of Western tourists along with ordinary Vietnamese, some with children on their shoulders, jostled to get a view of the torch as it was carried past famous landmarks in the city formerly known as Saigon.

At many of its 18 stops, the relay has been beset by protests against China’s human rights record and a recent crackdown in Tibet following anti-government riots. Large groups of patriotic Chinese have also turned out, in some cases clashing with protesters.

From Vietnam, the flame will travel to the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau before heading to the mainland, including the troubled Tibet region and to the top of Everest, and finally to the Games themselves in Beijing in August.

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