Olympics in China Sends Bad Message

by Paul William Tenny

I'm of two minds on China these days, the first being that anything we do that doesn't result in a positive change in China's way of doing things is contributory to its shameful culture of ignorance and oppression. On the other hand, calling them names and sending them to the back of the class isn't going to encourage them to change their ways, and at some point any reasonable person has to acknowledge that even slow change is better than pushing them in the other direction by being bullies.

I'm writing this because China landed the next Winter Olympic games, which I strongly oppose. China is still extremely hostile to press freedoms, and human rights in general, and I do think it sends a terrible message that a serial abuser of human rights can be rewarded with such a prestigious event. Their way of doing things really should disqualify them even from consideration, but that they won out over other nations that actually do good in the world rather than torturing their own people like ants in an ant farm is pretty tough to swallow.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, and this is just scratching the surface of the problems this is making, is the fact that China had to create special laws and rules for the repression of the press when the Olympics comes to their country. With all the foreign press, which as Variety noted often numbers more than competitors, it would be a nightmare scenario operating under traditional modes of oppression that the local press suffers on a daily basis.

From a report released yesterday afternoon:

While 43% of the 163 correspondents in the survey said the situation had improved since the government relaxed reporting regulations on Jan. 1, 95% said they did not think reporting conditions in China met what they would call international standards.

They listed more than 157 incidents, including intimidation of sources, detentions, surveillance, official reprimands, and even violence against foreign correspondents, their staff and sources.

China, when it comes to press freedoms and human rights, is one of the most barbaric nations on the planet. Simply say that much would get me arrested in that country, which simply underscores the point I'm trying to make. If China turns out simply to be a lousy host for the games, I'd be afraid to criticize them as the host nation for fear that I'd be imprisoned and possibly killed for it, and believe me, people are killed in that country for lesser crimes every day.

Other issues aside, it would never be tolerated to hold the games in a Middle East country such as Iran, even though Iran is a wealthy and stable nation by Middle East standards, and is probably well capable of being a respectable host as far as logistics are concerned. So why are we giving China a free pass?


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