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Council Member Wants U.S. To Pressure China on Tibet

March 10, 2008

New York Sun, NY
March 10, 2008

America should withdraw from the Beijing Olympics if China does not
grant independence to Tibet, a City Council member who is a likely
2009 mayoral candidate, Tony Avella is arguing.

"That's the only thing that will make them do anything — international
pressure," Mr. Avella said in an interview. "There comes a time where
you have to look at how the United States is presented across the

world, and I think we have to stand up for the right thing to do."

Tibet has been ruled by China for more than five decades, and human
rights groups have accused China of using brutal measures to enforce
control over the region, leading to protests by Tibetan exiles and

international activists that have stretched for decades. Mr. Avella,
who will attend a rally today in Manhattan commemorating the
anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China, is introducing

resolution demanding that New York Citybased corporate sponsors
boycott the 2008 Olympics. The resolution also calls for the
International Olympic Committee to move the games from Beijing, a

Mr. Avella says is "symbolic."

China's role as host of the Olympics has been a source of tremendous
pride for the rising world power, but also a magnet for criticism of
the country's foreign policy. Last month, film director Steven

left his position as a consultant for the games in response to the
country's ties to the Sudanese government, and in January, Charles,
Prince of Wales, said he would not attend the Olympics as a protest

China's treatment of Tibet. Democracy activists in Burma have asked
that the world skip the games to pressure China to drop its support
for Burma's military regime. America boycotted the 1980 Moscow

Olympics to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, but
President Bush said in an interview with the BBC last month that he
would attend the games this year.

The Olympics have drawn the attention of other local politicians, who
have written resolutions and attended protests against China. Last
month, Council Member Simcha Felder, a likely comptroller candidate

in 2009, said he supported an Olympic boycott over Chinese arms sales
to Sudan, and he urged American athletes who did attend to "embarrass"
China by directly protesting the government at the games.

Another council member, Eric Gioia, a likely candidate for public
advocate in 2009, introduced a resolution last year calling on
corporate sponsors to drop support for Olympics, also due to China's
involvement in Sudan.
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