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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China hits out at attempts to politicise Olympics

January 30, 2008

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Tuesday January 29, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Olympic stadium, Beijing

Any attempt to use the Beijing Olympics to discredit China or force it
to change policy is doomed to failure, the leading communist party
newspaper said in a commentary piece today.

The public relations counter-attack comes amid a rough week for the
Olympic organisers, who have had to admit previously concealed
fatalities on the construction site and counter reports that the Dalai
Lama backs Olympic-related protests in Tibet during the torch relay.

With activists from Hollywood to Taipei also trying to link the Games to
Darfur, Taiwan independence, religious liberties and freedom of
expression, the authorities in Beijing are fighting to prevent the event
being politicised.

The commentary piece in the People's Daily - the mouthpiece of the
communist party - says opponents have created a mood of "baffling
excitement" in which China faces "suggestions and accusations from all
over the world, including misunderstandings, sarcasm and very harsh
criticism."

Such anti-Chinese attacks, it says, are miscalculated. "The noise they
made might bring some troubles to the organisation and planning of the
Beijing Olympics, but they will not discredit China."

The article criticises "stars who write protest letters" - an apparent
reference to Mia Farrow, whose call last year for a boycott of the
Olympics unless China does more to halt the slaughter in Sudan is
thought to have influenced Beijing to take a more active role in the
attempt to find peace in Darfur.

The commentary also condemns "those who dream of using the Olympics to
support Taiwan independence".

This is an apparent reference to the president of the island, Chen
Shui-bian, and his supporters who are planning a referendum this spring
on whether to join the United Nations.

China sees this as a provocative move towards de facto independence, but
many in Taiwan assume Beijing will be reluctant to start hostilities
ahead of hosting the Olympics.

The People's Daily article says this is a misunderstanding of national
priorities.

"No country in the world will compromise its core interests to host the
Olympics," it said, accusing critics of hurting the feelings of 1.3bn
Chinese people.

The rebuttal comes a day after organisers acknowledged six workers died
in the construction of Olympic venues, including two fatalities at the
Bird's Nest, the main stadium over the past five years. The casualty
figure is lower than that of Athens ahead of the last Games in 2004 but
questions linger about why the deaths were not reported earlier.

The People's Daily commentary is unlikely to mark the end of attempts to
link the Olympics to human rights abuses. The Free Tibet campaign has
called on public figures not to attend, and claims to have the
understanding of Prince Charles - a known admirer of the Dalai Lama -
though a spokeswoman for Clarence House said he had not been invited.

Princess Anne, who is president of the British Olympic Association, and
Prince Edward are likely to go to Beijing. Gordon Brown accepted an
invitation to attend the Games during his visit to the capital earlier
this month.

China sees the Olympics as an opportunity to demonstrate its rising
power, confidence and openness. The first of the main Olympic stadiums -
the "Water Cube" swimming pool - was unveiled yesterday. The total cost
of Olympic venues will be within 13bn yuan (£900m), Chen Gang,
vice-mayor of Beijing, said at the opening.
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