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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Two faces of China: Olympics and Tibet

March 28, 2008

The Virginian-Pilot, VA
March 28, 2008

The Olympic Games were designed to soar above politics, to allow even
hostile nations to come together in the civilized endeavor of sport.

If Jesse Owens could travel to Adolf Hitler's Germany, goes that brand
of reasoning, nothing is so evil that it disqualifies a host country.
But in 1936, when Owens won four gold medals and put lie to the Nazis'
core philosophies, Germany was merely run by a madman who was not yet a
global butcher.

In 1980, the United States boycotted the Moscow games rather than reward
an expiring Soviet Union that had just invaded Afghanistan, a military
adventure that has repercussions for America even today.

In 2008, China's ruling junta is both more and less than the ascendant
Nazis in 1936, than the exhausted Soviets in 1980. It is a dictatorship
that has striven for worldwide legitimacy based solely on size and
industry. Beijing has no choice but to depend on commerce in that bid,
because it has given the planet so little else in the past 60 years.

Since the revolution, in fact, China's government has spread hegemony
and inspired some of history's most brutal rulers, including the
butchers in Darfur. It has robbed its own people of human rights,
religious rights and even their rights to have children.

The government has allowed Chinese industry to poison its own air, land
and water, and stood by while it killed the world's children with
tainted medicine. Through all of this, Beijing has taken little
responsibility, preferring instead to blame other nations and other people.

Even now, as it faces deserved outrage for the brutal suppression of a
new uprising in Tibet, the Chinese government's reaction has been to
become more intemperate, to send in the tanks, to shut out journalists,
to clamp down on dissenters, to become a deadly parody of the repressive
collective it already is.

Nations don't complain because they don't want to give offense to the
rulers of a population with such economic might and potential.
Governments have largely held their tongues so as not to jeopardize
future access to those billion-plus customers inside China.

That capitulation makes us all complicit in China's policy of elevating
commerce and compliance over everything else. Indeed, when the world's
countries arrive in Beijing for the Olympics, they will be consenting to
China's behavior as surely as if they drove tanks into Tibet.

The International Olympic Committee is to blame. The IOC should've known
better, and done better both by the Olympics and by its athletes.

China is counting on the Games - and the rest of the world's attendance
- to elevate it to the first rank of nations and to minimize outrage
over its behavior. Which is precisely why no nation should send its
athletes to Beijing. And why no nation should provide even the smallest
credit to a nation that has earned none.
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