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Friday, March 21, 2008

why i'm boycotting the 2008 beijing olympics.

As fun as the Olympics Games are to watch and as great an opportunity they are for amateur athletes across the globe, I can't help but be completely disturbed by the actions of the government of the People's Republic of China in their recent military crackdown against the people of Tibet over the past couple weeks.

With a strong-arm crackdown on freedom of assembly and expression underway in the People's Republic, there is no way that I can feel good about watching and therefore supporting the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The list of injustices stemming from that country's regime is long, but We Move to Canada has put together a list of reasons why not to support the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games:

Tibet: China's continuing occupation of this sovereign, peaceful nation.

Darfur: China is Sudan's largest trading partner and the main foreign investor in its oil industry. Most Western oil companies, under pressure from human rights organizations, have withdrawn from Sudan. And although we know that economic isolation and divestment can have a very powerful, positive effect (think South Africa), China continues to do business with Sudan, enabling slavery and genocide.
China: The list of China's abuses of its own people is a long and shameful one.

China executes more of its citizens than the rest of the capital-punishment countries combined and doubled. While China has a much larger population than those other countries, its rate of execution is still disproportionate. China has more capital crimes, and is believed to have more hidden executions and political executions, than any other country in the world.

China jails (and also executes) thousands of activists, political dissidents, journalists, and ordinary citizens who attempt free expression. Reporters Without Borders is a good source for civil liberty and human rights abuses in China, as is Human Rights Watch.

-- China's labour laws are a sad joke. Factory conditions sound like something out of Dickens or Upton Sinclair.

China pollutes water, air and soil with impunity, poisoning and sickening its citizens for generations to come.
So, when August 2008 comes around, instead of watching the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, I will be outside enjoying my freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression, and movement that the people of Tibet and the People's Republic of China aren't able to freely practice.


Anonymous said...

Surely if the International Olympic Committee can set standards for air quality, for facilities size, for corporate sponsorship, for transportation infrastructure, etc. they can set as a minimum standard a rule that host countries allow freedom of the international press.

It was a huge mistake to ever choose Beijing as a venue.

laura k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laura k said...

Hi, thank you for the link.

My post (in slightly edited form) also ran at Common Dreams. The mostly negative comments there were very discouraging.

Many people felt that because I am originally from the US, I "have no right" to criticize China.

First of all, I am highly critical of the US, too. (That's why I moved to Canada!) But also, do the US's many abuses somehow cancel out China's? Can we not condemn both countries? Do we have only a finite amount of outrage, and we must spend it all on the United States?

In any case, I thank you for being on board with this, and I hope more people join us. It may be only a symbolic gesture, but it's something we can do, and ask others to do the same.

(Apologies if this posts twice, and please delete the duplicate.)

Saskboy said...

It's a very well put together list. It's a shame the media can't be trusted to show it, or they might have the IOC cancel their rights to broadcast the games. It's one reason CBC will fail to cover the atrocities in China and the ones they further around the world.

mblogger said...

I agree somewhat to your post, yet I feel the point about Darfur is overplayed, and at times unfair to China.

Why do we not boycott the US or many European nations for doing business with Saudi Arabia? Or at the very least, why is there no pressure on them?

Beyond that, there are many other nations that are well known to be dictatorships, with horrendous human rights records, [i.e. Egypt, Israel] that are close allies of the US. Why do we not pressure Israel for breaking numerous international laws or having a large nuclear arsenal?

I do think we should be fair & just in politics, however odd that may sound. Otherwise, it is all part of a 'political game'. Otherwise, it looks hypocritical to the rest of the world.

Finally, to award the Olympics to China, then to snub it, is highly insulting. It is not the way the world works, and it will backfire. We have to learn how to communicate with other cultures. Right now, there are billions of people across the world watching their own local media, thinking "do these guys have any culture, or do they just like flexing their muscles?"

Anonymous said...

Great post dave. If only our political leaders here in Canada had the guts to stand up to China for the terrible abuses they continue to commit as we further open trade with them.

"Partners in peace," anyone?

Anonymous said...

"Finally, to award the Olympics to China, then to snub it, is highly insulting."

To award the Olympics to China and then to nothing when their government cracks down on peaceful protests in Tibet, interfere in Darfur, and more is more insulting to the people of China than anything else.

Do you think Tibetens are feeling that they've recieved the "fair & just" end of politics?

laura k said...

"Finally, to award the Olympics to China, then to snub it, is highly insulting. It is not the way the world works, and it will backfire."

When you see injustice in the world and you want to take action against it - even symbolic action - you do not worry about "the way the world works".

China storming Tibet with tanks and clubbing Buddhist monks is "the way the world works". We would like to see it work another way, and that's why we speak up.

Why on earth should we be worried about "insulting" China???

laura k said...

That comment above is from me, L-Girl. I was signed it, but it still posted anonymously, not sure why.

Anonymous said...

I fully support a Beijing Boycott, but I think the Tibet arguement is a bit weak, surely the Tibetan culture is being devastated and its people oppressed but the origins of autonomy are much more complicated than we all know. The Dalai Lama has done a great job projecting his message around the world and who can say no to that face. I think for a purpose of a boycott one should focus more closely on the foregin policy of China and its support of the Khartoum regime in the Sudan, Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the military government in Burma. Surely no one is going to argue that Mugabe is a good man.

Thanks, spread the word.

Anonymous said...

When they execute people in China, the family of the executed have to pay for the bullets. The loss of face is total.

mblogger said...

To anonymous: my main argument is one of double standards. The US is well known [check Amnesty & UN] to overthrow democratic regimes, to support rendition, to financially support regimes that crack down on peaceful protests [Egypt] etc.

My main point is the following - an uproar about the olympics is seen to be hypocritical by the rest of the world. You may ask me for evidence, but I don't have one, other than my limited circle of international friends, and my own experience watching media from south east asia and the middle east.

What are we going to do about it? Let's assume we aren't being hypocrites - how can we at least overcome that image? Because, when we look insulting, [even if we are not], that insult is felt.

Party of One said...

Frankly, I doubt if China as a whole really cares if there is no television audience for the Olympics. The advertisers and "official sponsors/suppliers", however, do. You would be better off telling them you do not intend to watch the Olympics...or buy their products.

The whole thing smacks of "bread and circuses", anyway. This is a type of nationalism (not necessarily the worst type) that distracts people from real issues and makes them feel a little good about their community/country.

We had the same phenomenon in the 80's when the Oilers and Eskimos were winning all their championships. The economy was in the toilet, but hey, a bunch of athletes from other places and "representing" (?) Edmonton were winning, so really, things can't be too bad, can they?

China needs a verifyably free and independant press and to permit dissent before I'll endorse their government/society. Until then, I won't buy products made in China if I can help it, no matter how much cheaper they are at WalMart.

laura k said...

"Until then, I won't buy products made in China if I can help it, no matter how much cheaper they are at WalMart."

If anyone can figure out a way to not buy Chinese products, I would love to know about it. I have never set foot in a Wal-Mart in my life, and almost everything I buy has a Made In China label.

What's more, many products labeled "made in Canada" or "made in USA" (if you can find any) get a final processing in North America, but originate in China.

I'm not being sarcastic. If there is a way to boycott Chinese goods without going naked and barefoot, and living in a treehouse, I want to know how.

laura k said...

"You would be better off telling them you do not intend to watch the Olympics...or buy their products."

That's part of any boycott of the Olympics, for sure.

But symbolic actions do have value, in and of themselves. All the great political and social leaders have known that.

One doesn't have to try and measure what China cares about in order to participate in a boycott.

If you don't like the Olympics, then this doesn't apply to you. But for those of us who do (and despite disliking the nationalism, I care about sports very much), taking the symbolic action of not watching and boycotting sponsors - and explaining to others why we are doing so - can be an important part of building a movement.

Every action does not have to have a verifiable, measurable consequence in order to be worth taking.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

The fact that you actually can write the phrase "China has more capital crimes, and is believed to have more hidden executions and political executions" should be a reason to not have the Olympics in Beijing right there.

Anonymous said...

I love how most of the anger is totally focussed on China and not on the Olympics themselves. There are also good reasons to boycott Canada in 2010. Maybe the lowest common denominator is this corporatized Olympic spectacle.

And surely we could come up with a better reaction to both events that an ineffective 'boycott' action that will make zero impact?

Anonymous said...

Boycott them then. But please do it quietly as some of us will be trying to watch the games.

Unknown said...


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Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
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Best Regards,