Post-Olympics Human Rights in China, Part II

“The decision in 2001 to give the games to China was made in the hope of improvement in human rights and, indeed, the Chinese themselves said that having the games would accelerate progress in such matters.” – IOC member Dick Pound

From the Economist:

IT’S official: “Tibet has moved from darkness to light, poverty to affluence, dictatorship to democracy and seclusion to opening up.” So proclaims the notice at an exhibition in Beijing marking the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s “democratic reforms”. To celebrate, officials in Tibet have designated Saturday March 28th as Serf Liberation Day. Lest anyone not share the mood of rejoicing, security will be tightened, dissidents kept behind bars and foreigners firmly steered away from the region.

From the BBC:

China is reported to have blocked the YouTube video-sharing website because it has been carrying video of soldiers beating monks and other Tibetans.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Post-Olympics Human Rights in China, Part II

  1. Mac Millings

    Having lived there for a few years, I laughed when I first heard that Beijing was getting the Olympics. Why? Mostly, the general disorder of day-to-day living in China, the traffic, and the pollution.

    But a little reflection reminded me that the Chinese government can do pretty much whatever it wants – clear the streets of traffic, shut down the factories, ‘relocate’ the people (i.e., clear the streets of undesirables).

    PR, global prestige, call it what you will – this is of enormous importance to the Chinese Government, and, dare I say it, the majority of the people of mainland China, IMHO – based on personal experience.

    I was in Tibet several years ago, and it was already becoming Sinified, losing much of its character. I dread to think what it’s like now, especially since the railway opened. There’s a lot to be said for the improvement of the living conditions and education of the Tibetan people (to the extent that it’s actually happening). That is, of course, a good thing. But surely it should be done by the Tibetans themselves, with outside aid of course, rather than being forced upon them with threats of violence if they don’t comply.

    Mind you, I’m not sure an American should protest about China’s involvement in Tibet without also supporting Hawaiian independence. I’m not joking. Both takeovers were similarly illegal.

    Sorry, Dayn, I will try to stop taking over your blog. Just discovered it, and finding your subject matter (esp. China and cricket) fascinating.

  2. daynperry

    Mac-

    Thanks for your perspective, and, please, don’t hesitate to comment at length whenever you feel like it. My impression from afar as that many (most?) rank-and-file Chinese aren’t overly troubled by the actions of their government. True from your experiences?

  3. Mac Millings

    True, to the extent that it doesn’t bother them when they’re not affected. Further, in my experience, they tend to approve strongly if it helps them individually or as a group, or if China’s prestige is boosted. Nationalism – that is, the growth of the nation’s strength and prestige – is a powerful force.

    China spent most of its history as top dog in the world (or, at least, the world that was known to them). Then the West came along. Now that China is moving towards global pre-eminence, the people are pretty excited, and I’d even say that they feel that’s their country’s rightful place. Anything the government does that appears to bolster that, is, on the whole, just fine by them.

    But, even with a strict leadership, protest does happen if the government messes with the people – this has been the case throughout history. According to Confucian thought (which is important – it ain’t just for fortune cookies), the people had a right to rise up if they were being oppressed, but if the mob was defeated, it was considered divine will that the leadership stay in place. Those attitudes prevail, loosely, today, I think.

    So, there was protest among provincial workers a few years ago when unemployment levels rose. Then there’s Tiananmen Square, of course…which, according to participants I’ve spoken to, was mostly a student protest for better living conditions – but that’s another story for another time.

    There’s a level of tolerance for protests, but the government prefers (indeed, encourages) them to be aimed at outside forces – eg the government-sponsored marches after the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade back in 1999(?).

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