Why Boycott the 2008 Olympics?

Tan TanCorrespondent IMay 9, 2008

I construe a sense of déjà vu when I read reports on how Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy and other Western leaders contemplated the idea of boycotting the 2008 Olympics altogether.

In 1980 and 1984, when Capitalist West and Communist bloc boycotted the Olympic Games in Moscow and Los Angeles, respectively, the Olympic spirit was lost as politics were mixed with sports.

Will the world undergo such an egregious torture in seeing the Olympic spirit jeopardized this summer?

Inexorably. Governments are under immense pressure to boycott as Gordon Brown made a last minute u-turn to boycott the opening ceremony.

After all, why would they risk their popularity among their “freedom advocating” people? Let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands protesting about China’s violation of Tibetan’s human rights in London, Paris and other major international cities during the Olympic torch run.

But that is beside the point. Yes, China does not have a remarkable human rights record. Yes, China has censored YouTube, BBC and other foreign media. But China has improved tremendously in their human rights record.

Gone are the days of the Cultural Revolution, excessive media propaganda and complete censorship of foreign media and the Internet. China has opened herself to the world, and by hosting the Olympics, she is trying to showcase a new China to the world.

This new China is about protecting the environment and empowering individuals with freedom as long as they concur with the One China policy. China, in preparation for the Olympics, implemented many environmentally friendly policies— the use of renewable energies, the building of green-cities and a total ban of car usage.

We should not forget how the Chinese Government empowered every individual to break out of their poverty viscous circle by providing essential education and training for her younger generation.

Why then, do we penalize efforts made in improving the lives of millions?  

Unfortunately, what the Tibetans demand is not freedom, but a separatist movement.

Who knows if those who feared the rise of China or those voyeurs who simply hoped to see China remain a developing nation instigated these riots? Who would blame the US for taking military action against a state which fervently seeks independence? Why then, do you blame Beijing for preventing this separatist movement from spreading to other states like Xinjiang, which would ultimately disintegrate China?

Let's not forget that the West once tried to disintegrate China by compelling China to give up Hong Kong, Taiwan, Manchuria and Macau to western control. Does that mean that the West has the right to pressurize China to grant Tibetan independence since they pressured China to surrender control over states centuries ago?

 A ridiculous notion. By doing so, they would only jeopardize whatever fragile ties they have, if any, with China.

However, the Western assumption about Chinese public opinion is wrong and potentially fatal.

To their contrary, the vast majority of Chinese have little sympathy for the Tibetan cause. It’s a pity that the anti-Western furor in Internet bulletin boards is in the unintelligible Chinese ideographs. Were they in English, Americans and Europeans would realize that their actions will have consequences in their lifetime, well beyond that of the Olympic Games.

The West must get this right—China’s rise is inexorable.

What they can choose is whether China’s rise to power will be a peaceful one or not. It seems that the West made a foolish choice by allowing their disdain for China to cross the Rubicon.

As Thomas L. Friedman wrote in “The World Is Flat,” China’s rise is a win-win situation for developed and developing countries alike. It is a question about whether the cup is half-empty or half-full.

The West must be optimistic about China and make any reconciliation possible by participating in the Olympic Games. There is no room for error. 

Let us advocate the Olympic spirit of peace and harmony in adapting ourselves to the rise of China.