China’s torch, credibility burning out

June 4, 2008 — by Gautham Ganesan

The Summer Olympics and world politics aren’t supposed to mix, but inevitably do. As Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games and circulates the vaunted Olympic torch around the globe, controversy percolates and protesters strike, as observed in San Francisco where rabid opponents of Chinese foreign policy assembled to express their disapproval of the torch’s significance.

While these protesters are often portrayed by the media as foolish idealists and liberal hippies, their complaints are largely justified. The Chinese government has often come under fire in the past for questionable human rights policies and the upcoming Olympics have provided a magnifying glass for such ethical failures.

Along with the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, the most glaring and well-publicized of China’s failures is undoubtedly the nation’s control of Tibet. Incited by China’s initial invasion of the province and the cultural dilution that resulted, Tibetans’ resentment for the Chinese government is very real. The Free Tibet movement, rallying against Chinese occupation of Tibet, has regained traction in light of the impending Games as protesters clamor for China to relinquish its controversial reign over the province. Despite recent violent outbursts by Tibetan shopkeepers, the long-suffering Tibetan citizens have remained largely nonviolent under the treacherous rule of the Chinese. The spotlight cast upon this crisis by the Olympic protests serves as an ideal turn of events for Tibetans and human rights activists alike.

Human rights activists are also pleased by the increased publicity of the Chinese government’s dealings with Darfur, which were cast into the limelight after Steven Spielberg’s refusal to join the Beijing Olympics design committee. Spielberg was reportedly infuriated with China’s financial support of the Darfur government, which plays an unforgivable role in the ruthless and unspeakable genocide of its people.
China’s tacit approval of the Darfur government’s horrors along with their continued captivity of the innocent citizens of Tibet justifies the widespread boycott of the Olympic torch as well as the Games’ proceedings at large.

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