Sunday, April 13, 2008

Birds Of A Feather Flock To Beijing

The "People's Republic" of China has a lot riding on the 2008 Olympics. Many in the media have characterised it as China's coming out party, their opportunity to establish themselves as an elite presence in the modern 21st century world.

But China has a problem. They're not.

While they may have economic prosperity, largely due to the inability of the citizenry of the United States to stop gorging themselves on cheap and dangerous Chinese made products, their modernity seems to end their. If one takes a deeper look at the Chinese government we find a body that looks remarkably similar to that of the Mao era. A communist government still exists, freedom of religion and expression remain suppressed, and arrests for dissent are firmly in place. Hardly an enlighted 21st century nation.

So freaked out is the Chinese government about the games that they have been kicking it old school. Websites critical to the government have been banned and dissent in occupied Tibet have been met with violence and arrest. In China's moment to show that they've evolved beyond the heavy handed, jack booted tactics beloved in the Mao and of course, by the former Soviet Union, they've blown it. In fact, their human rights record seems to be as bad as ever.

With that in mind, several European world leaders have decided to publicly express their displeasure by boycotting the open ceremonies of the games. For a country that is extremely concerned about their image, this is a huge slap in the face. And it's likely to be damn effective. The United States as one of the largest consumer of Chinese made goods, though no longer that the standard bearer for human rights, has an opportunity to send a very strong message.

And in typical Bush Administration fashion, they're about to blow it.

National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, on morning talk shows indicated that President Bush will attend the games stating that boycotting them would be, "">"a cop out". He believes that quiet diplomacy is what the situation requires. Right, because that's been working so well. What the situation requires is loud and active diplomacy. A diplomacy that says, enough is enough. Human rights matter, fair trade matters, religious freedom matters and until you, China, recognise it, we're going to call you on it every step of the way and in every venue.

By attending the opening ceremonies, President Bush simply validates for China that their behaviour is acceptable. Given Mr. Bush's horrendous track record, perhaps it is.

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