China Firm on Torch Defense

From TheAge.com.au, reported by Brendan Nicholson, Canberra and Mary-anne Toy, Beijing:

China’s ambassador to Australia has defied Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by saying the Chinese attendants travelling with the Olympic torch will “use their bodies” to protect it.

On the eve of the torch’s arrival in Canberra from Jakarta this morning, Zhang Junsai made it clear that the blue-tracksuit-wearing attendants would become involved physically if anyone tried to extinguish the flame.

“Their role is to make sure that the flame will not go out,” he told the Nine Network. “Was the flame attacked, I believe they will use their bodies to hold this, not to let flame go out.”

His statement contradicts Mr Rudd’s assertions that the Chinese attendants would have no security role in tomorrow’s Australian leg of the torch relay.

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