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Conviction Brings Into Question China's Olympics Rights Pledge

April 5, 2008

By MICHAEL CONNOLLY
Wall Street Journal
April 4, 2008

Although China has a long tradition of stifling dissent, Beijing itself
promised human-rights improvements for the coming Olympic Games. That
makes the case of Hu Jia -- an AIDS activist and blogger who was
sentenced to three and a half years in prison after using the Olympics
to criticize China's record on human rights -- even more disturbing.

As Geoffrey A. Fowler and Sky Canaves report, the high-profile verdict,
after a Beijing court found Mr. Hu guilty of subversion and libel,
heightens concerns among human-rights activists that the Beijing
Olympics, instead of improving China's rights record, may actually be
intensifying a crackdown on dissent. In the city's 2001 pitch for the
Games, Liu Jingmin, then deputy mayor, said "by applying for the
Olympics, we want to promote not just the city's development, but the
development of society, including democracy and human rights."

The U.S. government said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had pressed
for Mr. Hu's release in February, and it condemned Mr. Hu's conviction
on what it called "specious" charges. "It is a decision that is deeply
disturbing to the United States," Ms. Rice told reporters Thursday at
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Romania. "It is exactly
the kind of decision that we have tried to convince the Chinese is not
only not in the interests of human rights and in the interest of rule of
law, but actually not in China's interest."
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