By Jill Drew and Maureen Fan
The Washington Post
Monday, April 21, 2008; Page A01
BEIJING, April 20 — China has spent billions of dollars to fulfill its commitment to stage a grand Olympics. Athletes will compete in world-class stadiums. New highways and train lines crisscross Beijing. China built the world’s largest airport terminal to welcome an expected 500,000 foreign visitors. Thousands of newly planted trees and dozens of colorful “One World, One Dream” billboards line the main roads of a spruced-up capital. The security system has impressed the FBI and Interpol.
But beneath the shimmer and behind the slogan, China is under criticism for suppressing Tibetan protests, sealing off large portions of the country to foreign reporters, harassing and jailing dissidents and not doing enough to curb air pollution. It has not lived up to a pledge in its Olympic action plan, released in 2002, to “be open in every aspect,” and a constitutional amendment adopted in 2004 to recognize and protect human rights has not shielded government critics from arrest.
A haze of pollution hangs over China’s National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8. (By Greg Baker – Associated Press)
The two realities show that when China had to build something new to fulfill expectations, it has largely delivered. But in areas that touch China’s core interests, Olympic pledges come second.
“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 tracks China’s Olympic preparations.
With the Games less than four months away, the International Olympic Committee is scrambling to nail down specifics of how China will treat criticism of its actions during the event. Pressed this month, IOC President Jacques Rogge clarified that athletes would be allowed to speak freely in Beijing’s Olympic venues, calling it an “absolute” human right.
“I can’t help but feel cynical about all this,” said David Wallechinsky, an Olympic historian, who said the IOC should have been more forceful with China earlier. “What are they going to do, take away the Games?”
Archive for the ‘International Olympic Committee’ Category
By Jill Drew and Maureen Fan
BEIJING (Reuters) – The
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), foreign leaders and overseas companies engaging with China could appear complicit if they failed to speak out about the rights violations, the London-based watchdog said on Wednesday as the volume of criticism of China grows around the world.
Beijing signed up for the Games hoping they would showcase the country’s progress and national unity, but the Olympics year so far has seen pressure mount, chiefly over China’s policy towardsand and its human rights record, most recently in Tibet.
In and around Beijing, Chinese authorities have silenced and imprisoned human rights activists in a pre-Olympics “clean up,” Amnesty said.
Amnesty, which introduced a bandana-wearing monkey mascot to head its “Uncensor China” campaign, also said the crackdown on a rash of demonstrations in and around Tibet in recent weeks had led to “serious human rights violations.”
“These actions cast doubt on whether the Chinese authorities are really serious about their commitment to improve human rights in the run up to the Olympics,” Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a statement.
The Host of the Olympics or the Thug of Tibet?
The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; Page A15
As what the Dalai Lama has called “cultural genocide” goes on in Tibet, it is wholly unacceptable that Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee, refuses to take a stand against the Beijing government’s current crackdown on Tibetan protesters. In fact, this is completely at odds with the “spirit of the Olympics.”
REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)
Far more than Steven Spielberg, who quit his advisory role for the Summer Games because of China‘s unwillingness to pressure the Sudanese government on genocide in Darfur, the IOC has a special obligation to act. Since promised improvements in China’s human rights were a quid pro quo for awarding the Games to Beijing, how can it proceed as if nothing happened when blood is flowing in the streets of Lhasa?
Above: Steven Spielberg, seen in 2006, cut his ties with the Beijing Olympics. The director, while working for China, came to believe that China is not doing enough to help end the conflict in Darfur. (Associated Press photo).And if the Dalai Lama resigns from all his public positions in response to the violence, as he said yesterday that he might, the prospect of resolving the Tibet issue peacefully will be even more hopeless. We will feel very sorry if that comes about — for Tibet and for China.
If the IOC doesn’t move to put pressure on Beijing consistent with its obligations, it risks this Olympics being remembered like the 1936 Games in Berlin. Already, the spirit of the Olympics in Beijing has become associated with the word “genocide,” thanks to Spielberg and the Dalai Lama. Indeed, if the IOC and the rest of the world do not pressure Beijing to stop the crackdown and improve human rights now, a boycott of the Games will widely be seen as justified.
Peace and Freedom wishes to thank Wei Jingsheng who we consider a special friend.
The writer, a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, lives in exile in Washington. He was first arrested in China in 1979 for his activities with the “Democracy Wall” movement and was released in 1993 nine days before the International Olympic Committee voted on Beijing’s bid for the 2000 Games. He was arrested in March 1994 for “plotting against the state” and released in 1997.
PARIS – Moves to punish
Hollywood actor and Tibet activist Richard Gere Saturday called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games if China “does not act in the proper way” in handling protests in the Himalayan region.
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jim McIsaac)
(AP Photo/Keystone, Dominic Favre)
Such a protest by world leaders would be a huge slap in the face for China’s Communist leadership.
‘s outspoken foreign minister, former humanitarian campaigner Bernard Kouchner, said the idea “is interesting.”
Kouchner said he wants to discuss it with other foreign ministers from the 27-nationnext week. His comments opened a crack in what until now had been solid opposition to a full boycott, a stance that Kouchner said remains the official government position.
The idea of skipping the Aug. 8 opening ceremony “is less negative than a general boycott,” Kouchner said. “We are considering it.”
Asked about Kouchner’s statement, China’s U.N. Ambassadorsaid: “Certainly I think what he said is not shared by most of the people in the world.”
Jacques Rogge said last month that he expects many heads of state — including , and — to attend the opening ceremony.
By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; Page A01
BEIJING — In summer, a gray industrial haze coats this city of more than 15 million, descending over the Great Wall, sticking to humid hillsides and obscuring skyscrapers. Soaring temperatures and a lack of wind conspire with gunk-spewing traffic to foul the air.
The pollution is so bad many visitors are wondering how Olympic athletes will be affected and how this city can possibly be ready to host them in less than 10 months.
Above: A beautiful, sunny morning near Beijing.