The 2008 Olympics is scheduled to open this summer in Beijing, China. The Olympic Games are a global celebration which brings together athletes from allover the world. Recently there have been growing sentiments by human rights watchdogs calling for world wide boycott of this year Olympics as sign of protest to the Chinese authority continued abuse of human rights.
China is the most populous nation in the world; the country is also experiencing the fastest growing economy and is set to become a world super power in few years. Amid all the economic prosperity, China’s human rights record is one of the worst in the world. The Chinese authority has over the year violated every fundamental freedom. Press freedom is not guaranteed in China. Currently, there are over 30 journalists and over 50 internet users who have been detained by the authority on trampled up charges of spreading information that is a threat to national security. The authority is notorious for blocking News websites and jamming international radio station operating within China.
According to Kathleen McLaughlin, in her article titled; China Trial, “Accredited foreign media in China are required to apply for explicit permission from the government offices before they can head anywhere in China to report. They are also required to seek permission for all interview in Beijing and are routinely warned of interviewing people on the streets” This is seen as a direct attempt by the authority to control the media, in a bid to cover undemocratic practices like high level corruption taking place in China.
With a large number of international journalist expected to land in China this summer, authority have already issued rules that journalist should adhere to when they are in China. According to the rules issued by the Ministry of Foreign affairs to every international press agency, Journalist “shall not engage in activities which are incompatible with the status or task, or which endanger China’s National security, unity or community and public interest” to add insult to the injury, the Chinese government have issued a press regulation requiring international media to distribute any information through the state run Xinhua News Agency. According to Arch Puddington, in his article titled; China Games “Like much else in post-Mao, media censorship has been modernized to suit the needs of a country, now extensively involved with the outside world. Editors of Chinese newspapers have been instructed to stress the social benefits that will accompany the Olympics and to avoid anything that might raise questions about the price being paid by the Chinese people”
Another issue of concern is the Darfur Crisis, where Human Right activist feels that China is facilitating the slaughtering of thousands in the Northern Sudan region. In a bid to form a close ties with the Sudanese Authority for a share of oil, China has turned a blind eye to the continued human right abuse and brutality on the minority Christian living in camps in the North region by the Sudanese Authority.
China continued control of Tibet, and the continued crackdown on dissidents pressing for Tibet autonomy is another form of human abuse. It is important to note here that Tibet through the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, have fruitlessly being attempting secession in the past 50 years. The general feeling is that China should give Tibet independence to govern itself.
These are some of the contentious issues that china is grappling with as it finalizes preparation for 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. The question is; will boycotting the Olympics bring the much needed democracy in china? Already, world leaders like US president George Bush have pledge his country support and will be one of the guest in attendance during the opening ceremony. Indeed, just like Bush, over 200 world leaders will be attending the opening ceremony in Beijing in a show of solidarity to the Chinese leader Hu Jintao. The world leaders have realized that, the best way to bring democracy is not by boycotting the Olympics, but by attending and using the Olympics platform as a forum to air all the grievances and hold discussions on the issues. According to George Bush, “the Olympics themselves could prove a powerful but intangible incentive for democratic change”.
Currently, the International Olympic Committees (IOC) is in the best position to demand solid goodwill gesture and improvement to human rights by the Chinese authority before the opening ceremony. According to Jacques Rogge, IOC chairman, China is a closed society and the 2008 Olympics games will contribute significantly in opening up China.
Going back to history when the IOC awarded the 1974 Olympics to Moscow, over 20 countries led by United States boycotted the Olympics due to Moscow cruelty on it citizens and the neighboring country. It is important to note here that, the boycott in itself did not yield much positive result but rather contributed in dividing the world further. Currently, the United States and most European countries depend on Chinese made products. Any attempt to boycott the Olympics would jeopardize the close economical relationship that China has with the rest of the world and increase political tension in the world.
It is important to note that during the Olympics games in China, over 20,000 foreign media will form bases in China Capital, Beijing. Although the Chinese government seemed determine to control the foreign media, chances are that, there will be many loopholes which will enable the foreign media get a lot of information surrounding controversial issue from the Chinese people. This coupled with latest technology, is one of the platform that the foreign media can use to bring to the open human right abuses in China.
World leaders who will be attending the opening Olympics ceremony in Beijing must use the chance to press the Chinese authority to move towards the path of democracy and guarantee human rights and media freedom. The Chinese government should also use the chance provided by the Olympics to overcome any stereotypes and issues surrounding China.
Chinese authority has so far spent over $40 billion preparing the country for Olympics. Part of the money has been used in relocating over 200 industries, which have been contributing to pollution of the Beijing green zones. Many houses within Beijing have been provided with cleaner energy will less emission. Such bold steps by China should not be ignored as they have significantly reduced pollution. Beijing city is a much cleaner, with a more organized transport system. All these progress has been brought about by the Olympics Games.
Olympics are about sports and athletes and should not be mixed with politics. The 2008 summer Olympics should not be boycotted as nothing much will be achieved from such action. World leaders should use the Olympics as a forum to discuss issues with China and press the authority towards moving in the path of democracy. International media should also use the chance to bring out to the open all human right abuse; this way, the Chinese authority will be compelled to change for better.
Arch Puddington, China Games, 2008. Web.
Boycotting the Summer Olympics Games in China, 2008. Web.
Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008. Web.
Kathleen E. McLaughlin, The Olympic Trial, 2008. Web.