Wednesday, July 30, 2008

China's promises

People who are about to fall into a state of TV enthrallment during the Olympic Games might take a few minutes off to reflect upon what has happened in China since 2001, when Beijing was designated as the host city for 2008. I'm thinking, not of air pollution, but of the promises of a political nature made by the Chinese government.

Concerning access to the Internet, Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC [International Olympic Commitee], claimed recently that there would be no Internet censure in China during the Games.

Today, on the contrary, the IOC admitted that it had always known that China would never remove Internet restrictions for foreign journalists covering the Games. Even the websites of the celebrated Falun Gong spiritual movement, with millions of adepts in China and throughout the world, are outlawed. [Click the logo to visit their information center... unless you happen to be located in China.]

Concerning Tibet, the current situation is hard to analyze. On the one hand, it's a fact that China recently sent two senior Communist officials to meet up with Tibetan negotiators. On the other hand, reports from the exiled Tibetan government in India claim that over 200 people have been killed in violence in Tibet over the last four months.

Finally, in the domain of human rights, there is no more eloquent statement of China's broken promises than the Amnesty International report on this subject. [Once again, unless you happen to be located in China, you can access the Amnesty website simply by clicking the following banner.]

We read, on the first page of this report: Regrettably, since the publication of Amnesty International’s last Olympics Countdown report on 1 April 2008, there has been no progress towards fulfilling these promises, only continued deterioration. Unless the authorities make a swift change of direction, the legacy of the Beijing Olympics will not be positive for human rights in China.

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