07 June 2007

China, the US, and the 2008 Olympics

China is quickly emerging as the heir to the former Soviet Union's role as the second super power. China is among our biggest trade partners (seriously, find how many things in your house are marked with "Made in China"), one of the largest investors in the African continent, and the largest country in the world by population. It makes sense that such a model of the new and global economy would get the 2008 Olympics.

But should the US attend these games?

First, there is China's rights abuses in their own country. The fact that eighteen years after Tienanmen Square, they have yet to admit to any wrong doing or even allow for a memorial service in the Square itself does not demonstrate the type of nation that we should be supporting. (This is not to mention how many Chinese the Olympic construction has displaced, as Atlanta did the same thing on a smaller scale.)

Perhaps we as a nation should take a closer look at China's trading partners in Africa. Among them are the Sudan and Zimbabwe, two of the most notorious human rights abusers on the continent. China won't point out the speck in their trading partners' eyes with a plank in their own, but they won't remove their plank. China can hold tremendous sway in the reason and help to put an end to the Sudanese genocide, but instead of risking an economic advantage, they threaten to veto any UN sanctions on Sudan.

With the world on China as 2008 approaches, the US and other western nations have a great opportunity to shame China into shape. Threatening to boycott the Olympics, whose greatest supporters in recent times have been Americans, would force China to start reforming their rights policies.

But I don't see the US boycotting. China is our ally, and will be for some time, despite supporting the Khmer Rouge, despite its numerous rights abuses, and despite their support of genocidal African regimes. We want China to help us talk to North Korea. We want China to continue making our stuff. We want China. Our nation has essentially given China a get-out-of-jail-free card (or several).

Even if the US did decide to boycott, the American people would never allow it. To many rich business men are looking forward to going to the games. To many Americans depend on the Olympics to build up their national pride. NBC depends on the games to pull in advertising and viewers.

Five bucks says we would boycott the Cuban Olympics. Ten says we would boycott the Venezuelan games.

It kind of makes you wonder.

Rock on.


John said...

I don't think that a boycott is a good idea. It carries no diplomatic punch, especially against a heavyweight like China (see also the 1980 boycott).

Olympic athletes are people who devote their entire lives for the one chance to compete. It seems heartless to throw away their one chance to succeed for the sake of an ineffectual diplomatic talking point.

rocksalive777 said...

I think that China's still looking to make its own name as a superpower and that they see the Olympics as what would seal the deal. With one of the top competitors (and all the fans that go with it) not in attendance, a simple boycott could make quite a difference. In 1980, the superpower was already established and on its way out. China, on the other hand, is on the way up, and as such, being blocked by a major event boycott. A second major difference, that we are not sworn enemies of China, would heighten the effect of the boycott.

I would not be at all opposed to seeing a complete boycott of China until they reverse their policies limiting human rights and encourage an end to rights abuses in their African trading partners. How'd that be for a political punch?

Arik said...

I think it'd be pretty hypocritical to boycott China over this when we've got the lovely Guantanamo bay residing in Cuba, torture allegations in Abu Ghraib, and the lovely Patriot Act. Also, we still have yet to have a president visit either Nagasaki or Hiroshima, and those took a lot more lives than Tienanmen Square (not to mention the latter was instigated by the students who smashed a policeman's head in with a rock).

Fact is, China behaves just as responsibly as us, if not more so. They don't seem to regard the world as their personal sandbox. And the most of the world agrees, if you look at some statistics in a recent Newsweek article.

Just some thoughts.