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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Ended revels

September 7, 2008

Aug 27th 2008
The Olympics will not change China's behaviour

JOURNALISTS moaned about China's internet controls and thuggish 
police. Human-rights groups complained that it broke promises to 
allow protests. Spectators and residents alike grumbled about tight 
security and visa restrictions that kept people away from Beijing. 
But the Olympics earned more than enough praise to bolster China's 
confidence in its ability to impress the world.

 From the world's biggest airport terminal, where the athletes and 
visitors arrived, to the colossal new "bird's nest" stadium and the 
lavish opening and closing ceremonies involving thousands of costumed 
soldiers drilled to perfection, China wanted to inspire awe, and 
leave visitors and viewers alike impressed by the country's grandeur, 
immensity and a national will to succeed.
AFP Back to normal?

Few would dispute that this goal was achieved. President George Bush 
and dozens of other world leaders showed up. Beijing's perennial smog 
lifted for at least a few days. And breaking the hold that America 
and Russia (or the Soviet Union) had long enjoyed on the top gold-
medal position allowed China's pride to glow even brighter. As 
Chinese leaders see it, the Olympics could hardly have gone better.

But will a proud and confident China interact with the world any 
differently? Diplomats have long complained about a "victim 
mentality" among Chinese bureaucrats that dwells on China's 
sufferings at the hands of foreign powers before the Communist 
takeover in 1949, and perceived attempts by the West to impede its 
rise today. The games should have helped to change this. The decision 
by Mr Bush, Britain's Gordon Brown and even France's President 
Nicolas Sarkozy to attend (Mr Sarkozy having hinted at a possible 
boycott over Tibet) demonstrated that no major power was prepared to 
risk annoying China.

Ardent nationalists in China may be temporarily quieted by the medals 
and the praise (even if ambiguously couched in the case of the 
statement by Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee's 
president, who described the Beijing games as "truly exceptional"). 
But China's leadership is unlikely to abandon its rhetoric of 
victimhood, which it sees as a useful way of bolstering its legitimacy.

For foreign consumption no reference was made to Mao Zedong or the 
party at the Olympic ceremonies, despite their heavy emphasis on 
China's achievements. But the party still promotes itself to a 
domestic audience as the organisation that helped China "stand up" 
after decades of subjugation.

In the buildup to the games China tweaked its foreign policy 
behaviour. It tried to seem more engaged in helping to resolve the 
conflict in Darfur. It suggested democracy might be a good thing for 
Myanmar. One reason for these gestures was probably a concern that 
international criticism of China's attitude towards human rights in 
Myanmar and Sudan might overshadow the Olympics. More important is a 
growing belief by Chinese diplomats (regardless of the games) that as 
a big power China cannot entirely ignore such crises. But it 
continues to resist much more than token efforts. The Communists fear 
that prodding a country like Myanmar provides a precedent for 
prodding China, and the party is not confident enough to risk that.

In the coming months, China will likely turn inward. It has much soul-
searching to do over recent domestic crises such as upheaval in 
Tibet, militancy in Xinjiang and a deadly earthquake in Sichuan. It 
worries about balancing a growing economy with the need to control 
inflation. China is unlikely to behave like a self-assured power 
globally unless it feels stable internally. The ban on protests and 
lavish security precautions during the Olympics showed how vulnerable 
the party still feels itself to be.
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