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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

continuing the beijing boycott.


As Canadian athletes prepare themselves for competition (in which I wish them good luck), I am continuing my personal boycott of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Following the most recent embarrassing statement from International Olympic Committee Chair Jacques Rogge regarding previous statements on freedom of the press in the People's Republic of China, I was pleased to see Canadian IOC delegate Dick Pound raise some overdue criticism of China and the distant international committee. But Pound's criticisms only touched the surface of a larger issue which the IOC has chosen to ignore -- the dire state of human rights and political freedoms in China.

In 1999, as recently quoted by Ken Silverstein, Condoleezza Rice stated that: "Economic liberalization in China is ultimately going to lead to political liberalization. That's an iron law." Nine years later, the "iron law" of economic liberalization seems to have come along with iron shackles, rather than the political liberalization Rice may have had in mind.

A March 2008 report from the U.S. Department of State describes the People's Republic of China as "an authoritarian state" with a poor human rights record which has seen"tightening restrictions on freedom of speech and the press" including "increased efforts to control and censor the Internet." The report also accuses Chinese authorities of other human rights abuses including "extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law."

The Chinese Government has also been unwavered in its military and diplomatic support of the brutal regimes in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Burma, and North Korea.

So, I'm left with a couple of questions: Why did the IOC believe that it was appropriate to reward an authoritarian regime such as China's with the international prestige of the Olympic Games? And will the international attention for the games force China into the "political liberalization" that Rice predicted?

For more information, both Amnesty International and Reporters Sans Frontières are good sources.

2 comments:

Luigi Pollio said...

I'm sure your two questions were rhetorical but:
The games were awarded to China because of money. 269.8 million was the revenue generated in Torino. Beijing will bring in 3 times that.

Expect no change in Chinese politics as a result of this Olympiad. China is an economic and military force and will not be influenced one little bit by international communities. Sad truth is we need them too much. I'm typing from a computer whose guts are most likely from China
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/26/203.html

Rhys Courtman said...

"So, I'm left with a couple of questions: Why did the IOC believe that it was appropriate to reward an authoritarian regime such as China's with the international prestige of the Olympic Games?"

Well, if consistency is key, then Beijing's games are not the first time the Olympics have been hosted in countries whose governments are "authoritarian" - or worse; Berlin in 1936, Moscow in 1980.

"And will the international attention for the games force China into the "political liberalization" that Rice predicted?"

Why should they? An article penned by Naomi Klein and published, yesterday, inferred that the awarding of the Olympics had allowed channels to be opened for China that weren't, before; that the huge influx of technology for Olympic "security measures" will duly serve to further tighten the grip of the Chinese state on its own people.

It was rather chilling.