Monday, August 11, 2008

Does China Regret Olympics?

It seems you cannot read a newspaper or spend more than a few minutes online without getting inundated with negative press on China and their Human Rights abuses. First it was political strife, the Tibet, then Human Rights abuse, then speech and protest censorship, then Internet censorship.. and the list goes on. The question we ought to be asking ourselves is, Does China regret pursuing the Olympics bid and then trying to use the Olympics as a coming out party?

The Spin: Press

Let's start out with the press who is hounding China on these claims of abuse. Obviously with all this coverage of the Olympics it wouldn't be complete coverage if they didn't cover China's government and their actions. That being said, China should have expected a historic retelling of their rise from 1959 to today. China also could expect, like Greece, before it that the press investigates every misstep and will sensationalize anything - especially civil strife - to create a good story. China hasn't exactly been apologetic, either. They can control their own press and information but not the foreign press and so they should have known that the boys down at FOX are always fishing for a Human Rights abuse scandal (as long as its not being perpetrated by Americans.)

Freedom: Where to go?

Where is China really in terms of Freedom? According to Freedom House, China ranks a 7 and 6 (with 10 being the worst) for Civil and Political rights, respectively. That's not so good. The good news is that for the first time since the Communist Revolution major reforms and overhauls are being done. That means a lot more economic freedom and then a lot more civil rights freedoms. The Chinese government isn't doing these things out of the kindness of their heart though.. or from outside pressures, they are changing their ways mostly due to a threat from civil unrest. So, on the "Freedoms" front, while things are not so great right now they are definitely heading in the right direction. A few to dos include: allowing opposition parties, freeing political prisoners, working on corruption in government, and effectively dealing/compromising the Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions.

Subtlety or Bravado

The Chinese obviously were overjoyed when they received the Olympic bid but a lot of work was to be done. Back when the bid was awarded in July 2001 China was a long ways away from hosting a huge international event. The effort that went into getting everything ready early (unlike Athens) and then testing and retesting every little thing to make sure things went off without a hitch was really a herculean effort. That along with the amazing economic growth and cultural revitalization of China are note-worthy and admirable without a doubt. It is also clear that while China is straining just as hard as they can to show off their goods they are trying to be subtle in pushing their image. Subtlety however has never been a strong suite of the Chinese and what was suppose to be a glorious coming out party has become an explosion of Chinese Nationalism and an ever louder beating of the drum to the tune of China's growing military, economy, and influence.

Strong Moderate

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