China, Beijing Olympics

 See also Tibet and The Olympic Protest Primer

April 24
China to clear out students, refugees before Olympics
Beijing – China plans to order all foreign students to leave the country before the Olympic Games in August, strictly regulate the issuing of business and tourist visas, and deport refugees, sources said on Thursday (April 17).
‘Even if you have to continue your studies in September, you need to leave Beijing in July and August,’ a spokeswoman for Beijing University told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The university is one of China’s most prestigious colleges and enrolls hundreds of foreign students annually on Chinese-language and other courses.
The spokeswoman said the two-month gap applies to all universities in Beijing and was ordered by ‘higher authorities’ because of the Olympics.
April 21
China has not met Olympics goals on rights, pollution
China has invested billions of dollars in new stadiums and other projects for this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, but the country has failed to live up to promises made in 2002 to improve human rights and clear up pollution before the events, The Washington Post reports. “To ensure a successful Olympic Games, the government did make some technical and strategic efforts to improve the environment, human rights and press freedom. They did make some progress. But in these three areas, there’s a long, long way to go,” said Cheng Yizhong, an editor who covers China’s preparations for the Games. The Washington Post (4/21)
April 16
Beijing’s Obvious Hand at the U.S. Olympic Torch Run
The April 9 Olympic torch relay in San Francisco opened a window into the organizational capabilities of the Chinese government and its intelligence collection apparatus inside the United States. From the coordinating efforts of the city’s Chinese Consulate, down through local Chinese business and social organizations, and on to the pro-China supporters who photographed the event, the operation showed an efficiency and organizational capability not seen among the anti-China demonstrators. The run also revealed a high level of sophistication, planning and control in the pro-China camp.
April 10
Olympic President Makes Rare Criticism of China
BEIJING — The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, offered a rare criticism of the Chinese government on Thursday, calling on the authorities to respect its “moral engagement” to improve human rights and to provide the news media with greater access to the country ahead of the Beijing Games.
Mr. Rogge’s comments on China, made at a news conference here during which he described the protests that have dogged the torch relay as a “crisis” for the organization, were a departure from his previous statements that strenuously avoided any mention of politics.
The Chinese government immediately rejected Mr. Rogge’s remarks, saying they amounted to an unwelcome meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. “I believe I.O.C. officials support the Beijing Olympics and adherence to the Olympic charter of not bringing in any irrelevant political factors,” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters.
April 9
Olympic Torch Route Changed in San Francisco
(NYT) SAN FRANCISCO — The nation’s only chance to see the Olympic flame up close became an elaborate game of hide-and-seek here … as city officials secretly rerouted the planned torch relay, swarmed its runners with blankets of security and then whisked the torch to the airport in a heavily guarded motorcade.
[The relay in San Francisco follows stops in London and Paris earlier this week that descended into chaos because of protests against China’s record on rights.]
April 2
Journalism speaks with one voice in China
In China, news reporting is filtered through the state-run news agency, Xinhua. Internet censors block sensitive Western reports from appearing on Web sites publicly accessible in China. During the past three weeks, while most of the world has tuned in to the violent protests in Tibet, apparently not a single story in a Chinese newspaper has appeared on Tibet outside of those stories written and approved by Xinhua. The Christian Science Monitor (4/2)
March 31
We all feel Tibet’s pain, but a Games boycott is not the way to go
Boycotts in 1980 and 1984 merely helped the host countries

What is going on in Tibet wrenches the gut – but is a boycott of the Beijing Olympics really the best response? Boycotts can have perverse effects, as we learned in 1980 in Moscow and four years later in Los Angeles. In each case, the evil government that was supposedly being disgraced by the withdrawals actually seemed to benefit, at least in the hearts of its own citizens.
March 27
(National Post) Father Raymond J. de Souza: Stop ignoring China’s brutality and start a modified boycott of the Beijing Games
Surely, there must be a certain incomprehension in Beijing these days. After all, the Chinese regime has been breaking heads since 1949, and the world has more or less gotten used to it. Why should it be different this time?
The question for friends of Tibet, for friends of the Chinese people, for friends of liberty, should be: Can it be different this time?
The world can rightly claim to be appalled by the Tibetan crackdown — reports from Tibetan groups detail brutal torture and killings of monks and nuns — but no one can claim to be shocked. Is there a regime more ghastly than that of the People’s Republic of China?
Is any other government that so systematically suppresses all religious liberty, erecting religious bureaucracies to which believers are required to belong in order to worship? Is there any other regime that still imprisons and kills bishops, priests and monks who fail to swear loyalty to the state? Is there any other country where the entire population is subject to child-bearing control, with forced sterilization and abortions for those who decline to submit to state rules on family size? Is there any other regime that executes thousands of its citizens annually, the majority for the crime of challenging the ruling party? Is there any other country accused (by credible sources) of executing religious dissidents, harvesting their organs and selling them? Is there any other regime more dependable in its support of the worst kind of evil around the world (Darfur)?
March 25
Why China might have Olympic regrets
(The Independent) There will be no international boycott of the Olympics in Beijing. By the time the Games are over, however, even the Chinese Government might be wishing that its country had never been chosen to host them.
The disruption yesterday by pro-Tibetan demonstrators of the Athens launch of the Olympic torch relay is just the first trickle of what will become a tidal wave of embarrassment for the colonial Communist rulers of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Tibet.
French President Sarkozy: I Might Boycott The Opening Of The Beijing Olympics
(AP) PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that he cannot rule out the possibility he might boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if China continues its crackdown in Tibet.
Beijing’s Olympic Makeover
China Dispatch
April 2008 Vanity Fair
With its grandiose architecture, cowed citizens, and earnest self-improvement efforts—No pushing! No swearing! No irony!—Beijing is determined to be the perfect host. But no amount of pomp and prep work can buy China the role it wants.
[The Chinese] see the Olympics as an exercise in national prestige. The authorities’ main focus is not on the sporting events but on the accumulation of gold medals. They are also obsessed with the opening ceremony—sure to be a display of jingoistic pomp, and to include the hideous marching formations and synchronized crowd movements so dear to Chinese leaders. Already the boasting is uncomfortable to witness, because it stems so obviously from insecurity and a fear of losing face. It will naturally provoke reactions opposite to those intended—though probably unspoken, and beneath the official praises. Not that the Olympics much matter one way or the other. They will be hyped on television and soon enough forgotten. But it’s as if the Chinese government does not realize that the world already has a fairly accurate view of China. Yes, China is booming. And, yes, China’s cities are big and modern. But also, yes, China has serious problems—pollution, rural poverty, water shortages, the suppression of civil liberties, corruption, and the abysmal condition of its universities and schools. The problems are understandable, and hardly a state secret. I suppose people tidy up their houses before parties, too. But the Chinese would appear in a better light if they were not quite so nervous in advance. Read article
March 23
(BBC) Storms ahead for Olympics torch
Activists say the [lighting of the Olympic torch] ceremony will trigger protests over Tibet and other issues.
Security has been stepped up at the birthplace of the games in Greece to prevent demonstrations over China’s reaction to protests in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama supports the games, saying they will make a billion Chinese people proud. The Chinese authorities have accused him of trying to ruin the Olympics.
But the Taiwanese president-elect, Ma Ying-jeou, has said Taiwan might boycott the games “if the Chinese authorities continue to suppress the Tibetan people and the situation in Tibet continues to worsen”.
AUSTRALIA: Calls to Boycott Beijing Olympics
MELBOURNE, Mar 22 (IPS) – The crackdown by Chinese authorities on protesters in Tibet has elicited calls within Australia, a major sporting power, to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
March 18
Olympic committee concerned about Beijing air
For the first time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday said it is concerned that Beijing’s notoriously bad air quality could harm the health of athletes participating in this summer’s Games. It said it will monitor the city’s air quality daily during the Games to determine whether some of the events — such as the marathon and triathlon — should be postponed.
March 17, 2008
EU boycotts China oil firm over funding of Darfur regime
By Kim Sengupta
The European Parliament has disinvested in a firm accused of being one of the chief bankrollers of the Sudanese regime’s military campaign in Darfur after pressure from MEPs and human rights activists.
The Independent can reveal that, in a significant step in boycotting firms whose revenues are said to fuel the genocide, the EU has sold its shares in the Chinese oil giant PetroChina/ CNPC. The move follows revelations that MEPs’ pension funds continued to be invested in the company, despite widespread criticism of Chinese support for the regime in Khartoum.
The decision strengthens the international campaign to apply pressure on the Sudanese government over the continuing killings, rapes and forced evictions in Darfur by its own troops and the Janjaweed militia which colludes with state forces.
China is the foremost foreign investor in Sudan and a main supplier of weapons. It buys two thirds of Sudanese oil output.
March 12, 2008
Darfur’s return to hell|
(The Independent) Children raped. Homes looted. Villages torched. And thousands forced to flee aerial bombings– three months after UN took over peacekeeping.
The conflict in Darfur has entered a violent and deadly new phase. Another “scorched earth” policy is being unleashed, reminiscent of the worst waves of government-backed violence that brought the Sudanese region to world attention five years ago and led the US to declare that what was happening there constituted genocide.
Internal reports by humanitarian agencies operating in the region, and seen by The Independent, reveal that the active Sudanese government-backed military phase of the conflict, thought to have ended early in 2005, has resumed, with horrifying consequences.
March 8
(NYT) China Defends Sudan Policy and Criticizes Olympics Tie-In
BEIJING — China has expressed “grave concerns” to the Sudanese government about the recent violence in western Darfur and is actively working to resolve delays in establishing an international peacekeeping force, China’s special envoy to Darfur said Friday.
Mr. Liu defended China’s policy on Darfur last month at Chatham House, a research institute in London. On Friday, he said China’s position on Darfur was essentially the same as that of the United States and other Western powers. On arms sales, Mr. Liu said China was one of several countries that sold weapons to Sudan and “is by no means the biggest exporter.”
February 23
(IHT) China, in new role, presses Sudan on Darfur
By Lydia Polgreen
KHARTOUM, Sudan: Amid the international outrage over the bloodshed in Darfur, frustration has increasingly turned toward China, Sudan’s biggest trading partner and international protector, culminating in Steven Spielberg’s decision last week to withdraw as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics.
And it may be working.
China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say.
It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies.
February 15
(TIME) Beijing’s Spielberg Problem
By Austin Ramzy / Beijing
By the numbers, Beijing’s preparations for the Summer Olympics are formidable. But no amount of preparation has readied Beijing for the protest and criticism the Games are attracting.
That was made clear this week when director Steven Spielberg announced he was quitting his role as a creative consultant for the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.Despite what he called “some progress,” the movie mogul said the continuing bloodshed meant he couldn’t continue his work for the Games. “Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes,” he wrote, “but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there.”
Spielberg’s departure is bad news for China. “They are trying to have a perfect Games and present a picture of unmitigated success to the world,” says Nicholas Bequelin of New York-based Human Rights Watch. “And here is something that is not a success.”
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed regret over Spielberg’s decision on Thursday, while the Beijing Games organizing committee noted that “linking the Darfur issue to the Olympic Games will not help to resolve this issue and is not in line with the Olympic Spirit that separates sports from politics.” But those responses came nearly two days after Spielberg announced his decision to withdraw, adding yet another news cycle to an issue Beijing clearly wanted to go away. “They need to learn to do a better job of this, there’s no doubt,” says David Zweig, director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, of how Beijing has handled the setback. “It’s always funny how a country that is so sensitive to propaganda can’t do a good job of its own international propaganda.”
Part of the issue is that the Summer Games are no mere sporting event for China. Even though Beijing demands the event not be politicized, it is using the Games to demonstrate that China has returned to its rightful place as a world player whose opinion matters. As long as the government ties China’s global prestige to the success of the event, so it will be stung by any slights or failures. That’s a position Beijing’s opponents are learning to exploit. Indeed, given the success of the Darfur campaign, it is inevitable that other protests will follow on Tibet, the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and China’s support of Burma’s ruling junta.
While U.S. President George W. Bush told the BBC this week that he still plans to attend the Games, if another big name follows Spielberg out the door, China could see its Olympic dreams irreparably tarnished.
(The Independent) The great wall of indifference
Yesterday, The Independent announced a global campaign to shame China into doing more to help Darfur. And the reaction from those who could actually change things? President Bush rules out boycott and says ‘I’m going to the Olympics’. Major Games sponsors refuse to raise the issue with the Chinese
China broke its silence over the issue, saying it regretted the Hollywood star’s resignation.
The country’s state-owned media accused Western countries of exploitation, insisting the Chinese public were “disgusted” and “baffled” by attempts to influence policy ahead of the Olympics.
Sudan also leapt to the defence of its key trading partner and political ally. Ali al-Sadig, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, praised Beijing’s role in the peacekeeping operation and claimed Spielberg’s decision had been based on “wrong information”.
But despite the apparent indifference to the Nobel laureates’ letter in Beijing, Washington and Khartoum, the signs are that, between now and August, when the Games commence, the pressure on China and those companies and individuals associated with the Olympics will not let up. More
February 14
(The Economist)
High hurdles
It has never been possible to separate the Olympics from politics

China, due to host the games in August, is finding that its Olympic slogan—“One world, one dream”—also rests on hope more than fact. Steven Spielberg, an American film director, has quit as an artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies: China, he said, must do more to stop the bloodshed in Darfur. On February 14th a group of Nobel laureates and athletes said the same in a letter to the Independent, a British daily.
Since Beijing won the right to stage the games in 2001 China has known that it would have a hard time preventing critics of its human-rights abuses from spoiling the event. In 2006 it was delighted when Mr Spielberg came on board. But to China’s surprise, its behaviour abroad, particularly in Sudan, has been the focus of Hollywood’s ire in the run-up to the games.

February 12 2008
(Reuters) … “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual,” Spielberg said in a statement issued on a day when Nobel Peace laureates sent a letter to China’s president urging a change in policies toward its ally Sudan.
“At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur,” he added. More
(NYT) Spielberg Drops Out as Adviser to Beijing Olympics in Dispute Over Darfur Conflict
Steven Spielberg said Tuesday that he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, after almost a year of trying unsuccessfully to prod President Hu Jintao of China to do more to try to end Sudan’s attacks in the Darfur region.
Mr. Spielberg’s decision, and the public way he announced it, is a blow to China, which has said that its relationship with Sudan should not be linked to the Olympics, which have become a source of national pride. In a statement sent to the Chinese ambassador and the Beijing Olympic committee on Tuesday, Mr. Spielberg said that his “conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual.”
“Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there,” the statement said. “China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.”
Responding to Mr. Spielberg’s action, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington said, “As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair to link the two as one.”
Mr. Spielberg had written to Mr. Hu about Darfur twice in the past 10 months, his spokesman said, taking China to task for its “silence” while Sudan blocked the deployment of international peacekeepers and expelled aid workers from the region.
In September, Mr. Spielberg also met with China’s special envoy to Darfur at the Chinese mission to the United Nations, said Mr. Spielberg’s spokesman, Andy Spahn. None of those efforts yielded the results Mr. Spielberg wanted, Mr. Spahn said. In the meantime, Mr. Spielberg had come under increasing pressure from advocates working on Darfur, including a campaign by the actress Mia Farrow, to drop his association with the Beijing Olympics.
After receiving word that Mr. Spielberg had done just that, Ms. Farrow was jubilant.”His voice and all of the moral authority it gives, used this way, brings a shred of hope to Darfur, and God knows, rations of hope are meager at this time,” said Ms. Farrow, a good-will ambassador for Unicef who helped start a campaign last year to label the Games in Beijing the “Genocide Olympics.”
The actor Don Cheadle, a co-founder of Not On Our Watch, a Darfur advocacy group, said he hoped that Mr. Spielberg’s actions would force China to rethink its position. “One guy like Steven in a position like that is like 100 other guys,” he said. “Those are the kinds of moves, that if they catch fire, and other people think of boycotting, or refraining, the cumulative effect could be something that potentially could change the calculation of that government.”
Mr. Spahn said Mr. Spielberg planned to encourage others to do more to pressure China on Darfur, but he did not offer details. Advocates said they hoped to enlist help from corporate sponsors of the Olympics.
China has fought attempts to link Darfur to the Olympics, but it has also responded at times to the pressure.
Last year, shortly after Mr. Spielberg’s first letter to Mr. Hu, China dispatched a senior official to Sudan to push the government to accept a peacekeeping force and appointed a special envoy. But the Sudanese military has continued its attacks there, as recently as last week.
(Al Jazeera) adds more on the letter from Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Protest letters were delivered to Chinese
missions in the US and Europe [AFP]

Earlier on Tuesday nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Jody Williams sent the Chinese president a letter urging China to uphold Olympic ideals by pressing Sudan to stop atrocities in Darfur. As the primary economic, military and political partner of the government of Sudan, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has both the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to a just peace in Darfur,” they said in the letter.
November 7, 2005
In the Olympic Logo, China’s Double Standard
There’s new word of a thriving double standard in China. While they turn a blind eye to the wholesale piracy of US intellectual property, there is apparently one brand that they fiercely protect… There is apparently one logo that is inviolate: The 2008 Olympic logo. There was a great story on this topic last week by Wall Street Journal reporter Geoffrey Fowler.

3 Comments on "China, Beijing Olympics"

  1. Jana March 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm ·

    What Steven Spielberg did was a righteous action and one that he can of course afford to do. The CCP has shown and will continue to show its true colours to the world and this will definably sort out the righteous from the evil in this dharma ending period in the world today.
    It’s the CCP who has politicised these Olympic games by jailing, persecuting and removing the basic human rights of the Chinese especially the Human rights activists and human rights defenders and the people of faith while spewing forth massive amounts’ of propaganda to brainwash all Chinese citizens.
    BTW the Chinese communist regime boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 citing political issues. This info needs to be spread widely
    Why would the international community expect the Chinese communist regime to stop Genocide in Darfur or anywhere else in the world when they are committing their very own Genocide on the peaceful practitioners of Falun Gong in China.
    Spielberg would do better in exposing the atrocities committed inside China.
    Read the report about the Chinese communist regime committing live forced organ harvesting to the Falun Gong and selling their organs for large money to the rich foreigners.
    Crimes Against Humanity and the Olympics cannot co-exist in China.
    Some truths are intolerable
    Our Governments know about it
    Our media know about it
    Human Rights organisations know about it
    Now you know about it
    PLease do something now!!

  2. Diana Thébaud Nicholson April 17, 2008 at 11:21 am ·

    April 16, 2008
    The Beijing Olympics are a crucial chance to persuade China’s leaders to support dialogue and human rights in Tibet, as well as Burma and Darfur, and we need to seize it.
    China wants the Olympics to be a coming out party for a newly modern, powerful, and respectable nation. But the Olympics are about humanity and excellence–we can’t celebrate them in good conscience while ignoring the suffering of Tibetans and others.
    So Avaaz is launching a major new campaign: SAVE THE OLYMPICS. We’ll ask China to save the Olympics for all of us, by making specific, reasonable progress in dialogue with the Dalai Lama, securing release of Burmese and Tibetan political prisoners, and supporting peacekeeping in Darfur.

  3. An Xin April 21, 2008 at 9:30 am ·

    Fearful about the prospect of human-rights protesters ruining the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China today announced a plan to move the summer games to a remote location where no one can find them.
    A spokesman for the Chinese ministry of sport, Wu Qingxiu, said that the plan to move the Olympics to an undisclosed location has “advanced from the planning stage into the doing stage.” The reasoning behind the move was simple, Wu told reporters: “You cannot protest what you cannot find.”
    While rumors swirled about where the Olympics might be relocated, the Chinese official said that all such speculation is futile: “China is a very large country, and if you want to hide the Olympics, it is a very easy thing to do.”
    In order to keep the new location a secret, Wu revealed that China had not even disclosed it to NBC, which has a contract to televise the 2008 Summer Games.
    This decision drew an outraged response from NBC Chairman Jeff Zucker, who told reporters in New York, “If NBC doesn’t know where the Olympics are, no one will watch them.” Wu took exception to Zucker’s comment about no one watching the Olympics, responding, “That sounds like a typical NBC show to me.”

    I wish I could take credit for this but apparently it was in The Onion, and posted on one of several blogs in Beijing frequented by some foreigners.
    An Xin

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