Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Smog or Smokescreen?

So it's a year to go to the Beijing Olympics and you'd think it was opening ceremony time judging by the celebrations in China. As if they didn't have enough problems with smog, a whole bunch of fireworks went up in smoke. It's the smog which has dominated media reports in this country, but I wonder if there's a denser smokescreen in all this.

Are the Beijing Olympics the most politicised Olympic Games since the so-called "Nazi Games" in Munich, 1936?
China's human rights record remains appalling. In a more-ironic-than-most announcement earlier this year, the Chinese Radio, Film and Television's Propaganda Administration Department announced a ban on, among other things, discussing whether the media should be free. Perversely this even prevents the Chinese citizen arguing in favour of a state-controlled press! Add to that the repressive internet restrictions that have led to the coining of the phrase "the great firewall of China". How will the media-hungry West cope with the climate? The government has publicly recommitted itself to allowing foreign journalists unrestricted geographical access during the 2008 Olympics. But the government will forbid those same journalists from reporting on corruption issues, legal reform and efforts by activists to protect human rights.

In other words, its the Olympic coverage itself that will be the real smog cloud obscuring ongoing abuses by the Chinese government. Once again the Olympics become window dressing for a corrupt regime.


6 comments:

jeanie said...

hmmm....

China's political issues constantly rub me the wrong way!

BJ said...

Hey Jean - there will always be a China somewhere in the world. What gets me is the way the rest of the world is prepared to suck up to China. Everyone turned a blind eye to Nazi Germany in the 1930's and it landed the world a in a pile of trouble. And China is BIG...

Anonymous said...

maybe its just reality with such a big population? the only way to control things is to clamp down. someones got to hold the country together.

BJ said...

Anonymous, you've got to be joking, right? Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot all share your opinion on population management.

Ken DePeal said...

BJ, I'm with you on this one... completely. The human rights violations alone should keep us from getting in bed with China for the Olympics. BUT...

Perhaps this will provide a platform for ongoing conversation with China. Like it or not, they're a force to be reckoned with, and perhaps by indulging in this international affair more progressive, healthy democracies will have opportunity to bend China's ear.

If we don't engage what we detest at some level, they'll continue to do what they're doing without care or concern. But if the Olympics somehow strengthen some shaky relationships enough to talk to one another and be heard, perhaps it's not the worst thing in the world.

Of course, we could also put other restrictions on them... tighten up imports and exports... tweak the embargo systems... but it does seem that sports have always played a unique political role in world affairs.

Thoughts?

BJ said...

We had the same debate over NZ's contacts with South Africa, particularly in Rugby. The pushback becomes: how much do the ruling elites use these sporting contactes as an implicit endorsement/propaganda campaign for the regime? It certainly helped Herr Shicklegruber!