Wednesday, March 26, 2008

China - A Shortsighted Choice To Host The 2008 Summer Olympics?

With the Beijing Olympics less than five months away, issues China would prefer not to bubble up as the games approach – its involvement in Darfur, longstanding record of egregious human rights violations, violent clashes in Tibet, and reports of drastic punishments for Chinese citizens who speak out against the games – are finally beginning to gain some traction and media attention. And deservedly so. These problems should have been anticipated years ago, and are now threatening to make Beijing more of an international incident than a global competition.

Foremost among China’s troubles is its relationship with the Sudan, where there is growing pressure to end the genocide in Darfur. As the Sudan’s largest trading partner, China knows it is under intense scrutiny and is only now starting to publicly put separation between itself and the African nation. China has a history of blocking sanctions against Sudan and has supplied weapons that end up in the hands of militants contributing to the damage. Any steps China takes now to minimize the chaos in Darfur are clearly motivated by its public-relations-fueled desire to quiet any controversy leading up to August 8, when the eyes of the world turn to Beijing.

Questions more directly related to the games themselves have also arisen. Distance runners are worried about China’s high pollution levels having potential health-related consequences. There have been stories about China displacing families living in areas planned for Olympic facilities. Restrictions on live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square have been discussed for fear of protests pouring out over global television and embarrassing the host nation.

The confluence of these problems has the potential to make the Beijing Olympics a disaster, but that doesn’t mean they should not have been expected. China, after all, is what might be described as just somewhat less than democratic. And yet, despite seven years of pro-democracy chest-thumping from the Bush administration, there has not been even the slightest opposition to some of China’s more worrisome practices (which of course is likely owed to the fact that China basically owns us at this point – a bigger problem for another day).

The controversy would put any conscionable athlete in a tough spot. Taking the strongest possible individual stand against the games – refusing to participate – is probably not worth it to them to sacrifice a moment on the biggest stage of their sport. Indeed, the burden of raising awareness about the issues plaguing China and the games cannot fairly be placed on the athletes alone. Some Olympic contributors of varying levels of importance have voiced concerns. Steven Spielberg pulled out as an artistic advisor, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested he may skip the opening ceremonies.

In retrospect, China may appear to have been a shortsighted choice to host the 2008 summer Olympics. But with the games’ inevitability cemented, China must make a real effort to resolve some of its vast international problems. Until such progress is made, individuals, governments, athletes, and others involved should use whatever influence they may have to force China’s hand. (By Zach Epstein, the Daily Colonial)
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3 Comments:

Blogger kittykat46 said...

China figures its big enough and rich enough these days to ignore most international concerns.
Notice the kid's glove treatment its getting over Tibet ?

They hold billions and billions of $ USD of US Treasury bonds.. The Americans need them, badly.

1:12 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous SM said...

Typical...the "so-called" Develpoed Nations should boycott the Olympics.
But this will not happen. The poor Tibetians will have to "suffer" as noone's going to help them.
Kittykat...unfortunately u r right!

1:23 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Purple Haze said...

Like it or not, China is the engine of the world - so much gets manufactured in China and it ia one of the top concuming nations in the world.

In any case, Berlin 1936 also featured the Olympics in a country which was also not a popluar choice to be host.

10:28 PM GMT+8  

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