Thai leg of Olympic torch relay is festive
The nearly three-hour run, with no disruptions by demonstrators protesting China's recent crackdown in Tibet, contrasted with the chaos that accompanied the torch's visits to London, Paris and San Francisco.
Heavy but not heavy-handed security was deployed along the Bangkok route, with about 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police on duty.
Security officials had little to do but direct traffic and the mostly festive crowds, except at one spot where they came between pro-Tibet demonstrators and pro-Beijing supporters who exchanged angry words.
Protests over China's crackdown on anti-government riots in Tibet have dogged the torch on its way to the Olympics' opening ceremony in August in Beijing. The growing criticism of China's human rights record has turned the coming summer Games into one of the most contentious in recent history.
Although Thailand has an active human rights community, several factors favored the torch receiving a warm welcome.
Since Thailand began disentangling itself from its Cold War pro-U.S. stance in the mid-1970s, its governments have entertained increasingly warm relations with Beijing. Ethnicity also played a role, since most of Bangkok's ruling political and business elite boast of some Chinese ancestry.