12
Feb
08

Spielberg says no to the Chinese

UPDATE: Just after we came off air on Tuesday, Steven Spielberg pulled out of his involvement in the Olympics over the Chinese policy on Darfur. Can you understand why?

ORIGINAL DEBATE FROM TUESDAY’S PROGRAMME:

Here’s Olympic charter Rule 51: part 3.

‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.’ Do you agree with it?

Jett and Sherry, two Chinese students in London, are coming on the show. They think sport and politics should be kept apart.

They will be joined from New York by Nicky Drydan, a former Olympic swimmer and member of Team Darfur, which campaigns against Chinese policy on Sudan.

We also plan to talk to Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

China’s human rights record is, it’s fair to say, mixed, and the issue of whether athletes taking part in the Beijing Olympics should be free to point that out is at the heart of a number of discussions we’re following.

Do you want your country’s athletes to criticise China?

If they have such objections, should they boycott the Games, rather than turn up and make political points? Will political point-scoring sour the special atmosphere of an Olympics? All countries are critisied to lesser or greater extents for their human rights record (just ask Amnesty), so why should China put up with public criticism when others haven’t had to?

These questions have all been raised after the British Olympic Association inserted a clause into a draft contract for athletes which would have prohibited political demonstrations or propaganda. They are now reconsidering the wording, but the issue is up and running (if you’ll excuse the pun).

DON’T SHAKE TOO HARD

While obviously not ideal for the woman whose arm was nearly ripped out of its socket, nor for the man charged with assault, I did enjoy this story. Something to bear in mind as you go about your day.

PAIN PROGRAMME ON WEDNESDAY

Several of you have already shared your experiences. Here’s the page if you’d like to be involved.


91 Responses to “Spielberg says no to the Chinese”


  1. 1 Brett
    February 11, 2008 at 12:37

    If China is scared of having their feelings hurt, they should not be taking part in hosting the Games. To host such games brings them into the international spotlight and microscope. If this is something they cannot handle, they should not have pushed to bring the games into their country.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 ZK
    February 11, 2008 at 13:02

    I strongly second Brett’s thoughts. By bidding to host the games Beijing knew what it was going to get. Hopefully the British Olympic Committee take the right stand.

    ZK
    Singapore

  3. 3 John in Salem
    February 11, 2008 at 13:41

    What….? Are they afraid these athletes are going to tell the Chinese people or the rest of the world something they didn’t already know?

  4. 4 Brett
    February 11, 2008 at 13:53

    “Do you want your country’s athletes to criticise China?”

    – Not really, I would consider it quite pompous and arrogant for US atheletes to criticise China’s human rights when our Country is involved in human rights abuses across the globe.
    If they were to choose to criticize their own country in tandem with China, then I would consider it acceptable.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 gary
    February 11, 2008 at 14:01

    Hello All,
    The question should be “How may athletes have maximum positive social impact while competing at the Olympic Games in China?” You ask instead whether they should “speak up?” I’ve a question: Do you believe Olympic athletes are particularly diplomatic? This hasn’t been my observation. I believe the principle good they may do is by positive example. They must use exercise and practice as their only performance enhancement. They must compete fairly and to the best of their abilities. They must speak politely and act in a dignified manner. They must speak respectfully with their hosts. Please do not dwell upon their rhetoric. If they present themselves in a fair and respectful manner, the impact will be far more positive.
    Later,
    g

  6. 6 Dee in Chicago
    February 11, 2008 at 14:15

    Athletes have a duty to speak up against the human rights abuses in China. If they do not, their participation in the games will amount to condoning China’s actions. The athletes are not merely innocent participants in the games but rather the purpose of the games. Their criticisms are necessary.

  7. 7 Rory
    February 11, 2008 at 14:22

    Because China is now a useful leader in the world, the world pretends. PC is the way to go when thee is lots to lose on a financial or military basis. We are allowed to crit anyone in the west. But God forbid we do the same to China or the MIddle East or Islam. Athletes should say what they like. Freedom of expression is not a political choice. It is a right. Wake up Olympic committee- you are so embarrassingly obvious inn currying favour.

  8. 8 John in Salem
    February 11, 2008 at 14:34

    Oh, by the way…. When an event begins with all the participants in a parade with each group marching behind their own country’s flag it’s hard not to see that as a political demonstration.

  9. 9 steve
    February 11, 2008 at 14:36

    Remember, it’s okay to criticize Western nations, but it’s not PC to criticize non western nations. To lets all be politically correct, and non western nations can do no wrong, and only us horrible westerners can do that. Embrace diversity, forbid all criticism of non western nations but lets go on all day about how horrible we are!

  10. 10 Brett
    February 11, 2008 at 14:44

    Ha! Great point John, I never thought about it like that!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  11. 11 steve
    February 11, 2008 at 14:44

    Another example would be this. Japanese hunt whales, and eat dolphins. However it’s culturally insensitive for us to criticize this.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/11/japan.dolphins/index.html

    YOu know what, some aspects of some cultures are filthy, and we should call them out every time on it. And in China and Vietnam, where they eat dogs, they should be called out on it, and no amount of embracing diversity, or cultural sensitivity should change that. If you eat a dog, you are a savage. They are familiars, not food. Eating a dog would be like eating your child.

  12. 12 Ros Atkins
    February 11, 2008 at 14:58

    Hi Ros,

    Thanks for including me in your mails,OH! YES they should not only speak against but call for the BOYCOTT of such games when held in countries with WORSE records in everything like China.

    Thanks,Henry.

  13. 13 Ros Atkins
    February 11, 2008 at 15:00

    Hi Ros,
    My country (Jamaica) has the best 100 and 200 m athletes. I hope that they bring home some gold medals. Athletes are not going to will just go to China to solve political problems, they are paid to do what they do best, represent their countries in sports. Let the World Leaders worry about China’s problems.

    Thank you
    Georgia

  14. February 11, 2008 at 15:19

    Is Georgia saying that Jamaican athletes are paid to participate in the Olympic games? Thought that was in violation.

    Anyway, the Olympics have always been a political format really since its inception. During the cold war either the US or Russia were either sitting out or threatening to. This is the format you are inviting into your country.
    Why don’t the Olympic committee have a format agreement already made up with an outline of what is expected from both sides. If the host country can’t agree with it, then they don’t have to bother even applying for the opportunity to host.

  15. 15 Brett
    February 11, 2008 at 15:24

    “And in China and Vietnam, where they eat dogs, they should be called out on it, and no amount of embracing diversity, or cultural sensitivity should change that. If you eat a dog, you are a savage. They are familiars, not food. Eating a dog would be like eating your child.”

    Steve,
    Well some (myself included) would consider the Western culture of eating cows, chicken, deer, rabbit, disgusting and savage. Whats the point here? The diets of many cultures are filthy, including ours.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  16. 16 Ros Atkins
    February 11, 2008 at 15:26

    Well, athletes represent countries in athletics, I haven’t heard my President criticising Chinese Human Right record, so why should and athlete risk deportation and hence the forfeiting of the medal (which was his/her primary assignment) by venturing into the murky waters of international relations?
    Criticising a country’s human right record is a foreign policy issue, and so should be left for recognised statesmen. What individual athletes could do is:
    1. Convince their governments to ‘talk’ to China about its human rights record.
    2. Individually refuse to participate in the Olympics in protest over the said apalling records.
    3. Join government and speak for what is right.
    4. Keep quiet, do their thing (athletics), win medals and make their countries proud.

    Nengak Daniel,
    Port Harcourt Nigeria

  17. February 11, 2008 at 15:50

    It should be understood that the Athletes who go to a game in a country that is not theirs is subject to the rules and laws of the host country. The Athletes who go to the Beijing Olympics of 2008 must be expected to obey the rules of China and concentrate on sports. Athletes who want to mix politics and sports should withdraw from the Beijing Olympics.

    I close with this note. How can the West talk about Human Rights in China while there have been violations in among other places Cuba, Venezuela, and the USA. In the USA, The Republicans and Democrats use archaic laws such as the Primaries and the Electoral College to exclude alternative parties and alternative voices such as the Libertarians and Greens. How can the Republicans and Democrats criticize China on Human Rights when in America, people are killed and robbed at gunpoint, do not receive the best health care, and for lack of money do not have a fair trial. I say this as a US Citizen by Birth that China should be left alone and that the situation of the USA should be addressed by the world community.

  18. 18 Andrew
    February 11, 2008 at 15:58

    Considering that being able to participate in the Olympics is a dream for many athletes, I can’t imagine many risking their eligibility to participate by making any kind of political statements.

    The thing that has me curious, is how much of the games’ media (and Internet) coverage will be censored by China’s government..

  19. 19 John in Germany
    February 11, 2008 at 16:00

    Hi all.

    Sport has become a global money maker, and the SPORT in Sport is slowly going.
    to pot.

    Buying players to park them on the bank, so that no one else can use them. The excessive earnings of the motor aces. People are being sold, bartered, and auctioned?(that im not quiet sure of) ITS BIG BUSINESS, anyway its as bad as it can be, or can it get worst???.

    So come on lets keep the politics, and threats of not attending if you don’t do this or that. No i do not agree with Chinas records concerning its own people, but they are putting a lot of effort in to making the Olympics a success, so lets give em a break, and enjoy the games. I am sure they will be well run, and we will get a lot of fun watching.

    And i have a sneaky feeling that most of the athletes think the same, they will be there to do their best and win. A few would listen to their governments wishes ,and say what’s asked of them, because compliance is their ticket.

    So lets hope that our brothers and sisters that want to watch or listen, can.
    Then we will all be cheering, and hoping for a few GOLDS.

    John in Germany

  20. 20 George USA
    February 11, 2008 at 16:19

    No!

    The participants of the Olympics cannot make it a political event- that would end it as the Olympics.

    Yes the world can address the hypocrisy of the host country but not, I say again not through Olympic official participants or events.

    Darfur advocates are already gearing up to label the Olympic in China the Genocide Olympics for the Chinese use of their UN vote to protect Sudan’s activities in the Darfur area in exchange for oil concessions.

  21. 21 Margaret, Oregon USA
    February 11, 2008 at 16:57

    Although there are many things China is guilty of, there is no nation that is free of guilt.
    I understand that the Olympics were a place where nations could compete, in Athletic games. People from all over the world coming together to do what they do best, have others enjoy it, and yes hopefully make some money.
    Politics are in every corner and aspect of our lives. It would be refreshing to see politics left out and let athletes focus on what they do best, being athletes, not politicians. Let the political world and world governments deal with the problems they see in China, not their athletic represetatives.

    Margaret

  22. February 11, 2008 at 17:25

    Sport has become a calming pill for many. It’s better to argue about sport events than to be haunted by daily and world problems. Sports have become a daily celebration of team spirit.

    For states, sport is a source of national pride in case its athletes win medals. They become national heroes. Holding major sporting events like the Olympic Games is a historic event. Just winning the bid increases the popularity of the political leaders.

    Historically, the OG have been intertwined with politics. The Moscow OG were boycotted by the West in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In retaliation 14 Countries took part in the Soviet led boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

    The aim of sport is to live moments of competition in the spirit of fairness and to break the barriers between people of different races and cultures. It is a celebration of endurance and fair competition. But it has become an occasion to make political points as the weight of the event is likely to affect the success of the tournament. For China, no government is likely to call for the boycott of the games in view of political consideration. But if there is a successful campaign against its internal and foreign policy, the disastrous effect is when the public boycott the games by not travelling to Beijing or watch the games on TV. It can be disastrous even for businesses sponsoring the games. All this is improbable as people are more interested in their heroes than in political campaigns.

    Perhaps sport shouldn’t be politicised. There are political forums for political issues like the UN where debates should be held. The games don’t last more than a month but political problems can persist for years if there are no practical solutions. Politicians are thick skinned. They can’t be scared off by marches or demonstrations. There is also the power of the media and businesses which will eclipse the effect of campaigns.

    People need moments of escape from world events and their troubles. We shouldn’t mar their existence with too much politics. People are to watch games bearing the banners of their favourite teams and heroes, cheering them, and not to chant political slogans in an event meant for celebrating sports.

    Marrakesh, Morocco

  23. 23 Andre Carrington
    February 11, 2008 at 17:49

    No No No! From the time we start bringing protests and politics into the Olympic Games, both the athletes and the audience suffer. Surely everyone remembers how both the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and the 1984 Olympic Los Angeles Games were spoilt by politically-inspired boycotts?

    Bringing protests to the Olympics will merely annoy the Chinese and overshadow the performances of great athletes. We have enough problems with drug use and possible pollution – let’s not ruin the games completely with ill-timed protests.

    Here’s to a wonderful Olympic games in Bejing.

  24. 24 Isaac via email
    February 11, 2008 at 18:15

    I just came in now and saw this topic. I dont support the idea of making olympics an arena to register human right grievalences. Olympics is be used more to unite nations and bring about culture understanding. This is the only place where all 200 plus countries come together be one family. It would note wise to use the olympics to protest against human rights just imagine of the 1980 olympics in Moscow in Russia just to mention one event. Human rights problems shoud be addressed by other bodies which are responsible for this problem. I wonder what will benefit e.g. that oppositionwoman under arrest in Myamar.

    Leting athletes critize China on human rights doesnt not solve the problem either, this will be hammering a nail on a wrong place. If we want to solve this problem why not bring it at UNO for a full debate and envolve everyone. The world in place knew that China has a bad record on human rights at the time they gave her to host this galarious event.

    Isaac

  25. 25 Kent via email
    February 11, 2008 at 18:18

    Perhaps it’s my Iowa upbringing but my parents taught me that while I am a guest in someone’s home (or homeland as the case may be) that I am to be on my best behavior. For this reason, I would say that it would be inappropriate for the athletes to speak out against the Chinese government while they are in China. What they do after they return from the olympics would be up to them.

    Kent
    Iowa (US)

  26. 26 Jeff Minter
    February 11, 2008 at 18:32

    I like how many contributors (mostly American, surprise surprise) have made it out as if China doesn’t want to be criticised by foreign (us) countries. Note: CHINA HAVE SAID NOTHING ON THIS MATTER.

    If you read the article, it says the British Olympic Association raised the matter up. That’s us, not China. Truth is, we (as in the West) always lambast foreign regions for their human rights/animal cruelty/strict laws blah blah, and see ourselves as the ideal, the “best”. Those countries tend to make an official, muted response, and be on their way.

    Whereas if other countries lambast the West – e.g. anti-Americanism – oh, let the fireworks fly! Readers will cry wolf as they dictate history, laws, religion, events – anything that can counteract the critcism launched at them. Pot, meet kettle.

    Steve, how interesting of you to refer to the Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese all in one post. This is quite clearly a racial hatred that is brewing amongst the US public. Please do not let it get out of hand.

    “If you eat a dog, you are a savage. They are familiars, not food. Eating a dog would be like eating your child.”

    Exactly. Dogs aren’t “familiars” in the Far East. Can we really talk anyway? We eat deer, rabbit… more docile animals, yet somehow it’s acceptable?

  27. 27 bjay
    February 11, 2008 at 18:49

    Should athletes speak up in Beijing?

    YE! Lets be the sportsman to be the ‘INTERLOPER’ of the host !?
    Now yoe can do HUMOR ME, I’M FICKLE’.
    It is not the ‘athletes’ job to adhere to the political vision of the host country.

    bjay connotation with accent.

  28. 28 Chinedu Okwu
    February 11, 2008 at 18:57

    I don’t see any reason why China or any country for that matter should try to prevent freedom of expression. But still, I wonder why Olympic athletes should want to get involved in political demonstrations and propaganda in the first place. Is the Olympic not supposed to be sport? Shouldn’t we just leave and take take it for what it is? Why mix sports with politics?

  29. 29 anuriu
    February 11, 2008 at 19:03

    The Olympics carries an expressed desire to probe the highest aspects of the development of the human condition. The Olympics gives medals to those who have competed and proved that they have risen above the efforts of their competitors.

    In ancient Greece Athletics were not considered as a subject separate from philosophy or politics. China should welcome dialogue and discussion on all subjects that have to do with the human condition and in particular human rights. There is limited freedom of the press in China and there is also limited freedom given to all levels of the population of political expression and religion. It is appropriate that the world should tell China that they fall short of world expectations. You do not go to dinner with a murderer without protest.

    If the world had engaged Nazi Germany in the same way during the 1939 Olympics it may have changed the course of history and persuaded that nation that they were on the wrong track

  30. February 11, 2008 at 19:06

    Regarding the olympic charter against “any kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda”, this is exactly what the Chinese regime intends to do, akin to the 1936 Berlin games showcasing Nazi achievements.

    China has been wiping out the “ethnic, political, religious, linguistic and cultural and historical identity of the Tibetan people” since their 1950 invasion of Tibet.

    Isn’t the Olympic Committee therefore actively denying the ongoing Tibetan Holocaust being committed by the Chinese? Isn’t Holocaust denial a crime in the Western world?

    Conscientious people will speak up against genocidal dictatorship, whether they are athletes or not.

  31. 31 Darko Bikesic
    February 11, 2008 at 19:29

    i belive that one should respect the laws and customs of each country he goes to. he may not have a say in laws or the right to judge others lifestyle’s.however hey can show the pepal of the country the benifets of growing in a country that is free from oppresion . such as freedom of speech . the individuals in question can show and lead by example of how to live a better life and maybe others can take not and try and make a change in ther own comunnitys and country

  32. February 11, 2008 at 19:43

    Tom, Oregon (email)

    The Olympics is a business. They are in the business of making money by exploiting the hard work and dedication of athletes so it is no surprise that they are against people who ask for human rights.

    The Olympics should clean up it’s own act!

  33. February 11, 2008 at 19:43

    Harry, Ghana (email)

    Athletes are not politicians but certainly they have views that they MUST be able to air! If China cannot bear to hear its guests speak, then it should not invite the world to come to Beijing. UK allowed athletes to give a Nazi salute, what next now? Will athletes have to praise the massacre at Tiananmen? As for the African athletes, their weak governments will not let hem speak out being so beholden to China’s money.

  34. February 11, 2008 at 19:44

    John in Salem (email)

    Does the restriction on statements affect whether or not reporters can elicit specific opinions from athletes in interviews?

  35. February 11, 2008 at 19:45

    Zamondo (email)

    Would we want every athlete expressing there personal views. What if one of the athletes is a Neo-Nazi and wishes to express how much he hates Jews? An athlete is there representing his country not himself.
    You can always not participate if you wish to show your objection to something…

  36. February 11, 2008 at 19:45

    Jon, USA (email)

    I would like to see athletes take a moral stand on the human rights issues in China as well as their support of the illegitimate government of Burma. However, I don’t think it is their job. The real failure has already occurred. The Olympics committee selected Beijing despite their horrendous record. The global community has also sold their soul for the cheap goods and the opportunity to make a buck from Chinese products, so what if a few Chinese workers die in the process.

    Besides, when does the world actually take a stand beyond empty words? It is a bit hypocritical to expect the athletes to make a stand while I am typing this email on my keyboard “Made in China.”

  37. February 11, 2008 at 19:46

    Kent, Iowa (US)

    Perhaps it’s my Iowa upbringing but my parents taught me that while I am a guest in someone’s home (or homeland as the case may be) that I am to be on my best behavior. For this reason, I would say that it would be inappropriate for the athletes to speak out against the Chinese government while they are in China. What they do after they return from the olympics would be up to them.

  38. 38 George USA
    February 11, 2008 at 19:55

    The Olympics is a unique worthy event of mankind- athletic competition of the best on earth.

    Let’s keep it as close to that ideal as possible.

    Skip all political connections of athletes to protests.

  39. 39 John in Salem
    February 11, 2008 at 20:36

    Are the Chinese really that insecure about their grip on power that they’re afraid of the opinions of a few athletes?
    But, that being said…..I don’t really want to hear some figure skaters’ opinion of Tianemen Square. Using the games as a soapbox is just bad form, like Brando or Michael Moore at the Oscars.

  40. 40 Thomas Murray
    February 11, 2008 at 20:46

    Dear me. Please remind me not to vet any of you for the diplomatic corps.

    Corporate America doesn’t have a rule like China’s Rule 51, Part 3, but they sure act like they do. Protesters on private property here in the states are usually arrested. I’m all for free speech but I can kinda see their point

    [Writer’s Guild of America protesters in L.A. and New York protested on the sidewalks outside the gates of the studios and doors of television headquarters, where the law couldn’t touch them.]

    But no no no no no no! Every time the Olympics has been mated with political controversy, it has always been a mess. Remember the U.S. boycott of the ’80 Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? Or the Soviet Bloc boycott of the ’84 Los Angeles Olympics because of the U.S. boycott of the ’80 Moscow Olympics? Or the Palestinian outrage committed on the Israeli wrestling team during the ’72 Munich games? And, lest we forget, even the U.S. Olympic Committee got their corsets in a knot when two African-American sprinters raised their fists in a black power salute during the medal ceremony at the ’68 Mexico City Olympics? (Admittedly, they only sent them home. Not tried for treason and shot in the head.)

    Spontaneous demonstrations aside, it’s bad form to use the Olympics as a protest venue when the whole point of the competition is to foster world understanding.

    Besides, the Chinese got enough problems with those big giant chickens they got stuffed with steroids.

    — Regards, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  41. 41 Will Rhodes
    February 11, 2008 at 23:01

    “The participants of the Olympics cannot make it a political event- that would end it as the Olympics.”

    George USA

    I fully agree with you, George.

    If the athletes want to say something later, then so be it, but the charter does apply to all and it must be respected or the Olympics will die a political death. We cannot let that happen.

    Politicians are the ones who should speak to China on its human rights record – and people could always stop buying things from China – how about that for an idea? While big monopolies buy cheap products from China why do we need athletes to step up to the plate?

  42. 42 Chris
    February 12, 2008 at 03:49

    What this Olympic games do not need are the public protests on the street or at the competing sites to disrupt the normal process of the games. However it is important to bring in some dialogs to increase understanding. Series of open public forums can be hold on the side during the games. Chinese medium and foreign medium like BBC and PRI can take turns to host them. This way, different views can be shared and issues can be discussed. It can be done over the radio or internet so there won’t be any TV air time conflicts with the games. People all over the world can enjoy the games and at the same time participate in these forums. There is not better way to show a new assertive China to the world than this.

  43. 43 Helen, Australia
    February 12, 2008 at 06:36

    Yes human rights abuses are ongoing around the world, both in the East and the West, in large and small populated countries. Just because athletes may not have spoken out about such abuses in the past, during previous Olympic Games, does not however mean that they should not speak out now. Anyone who has the opportunity to speak out about human rights abuses, and wishes to do so, should have the freedom to do so, regardless of who they are or where they are. This is called freedom of speech (A very basic freedom which, under Hu Jinato’s government does not exist in China).

    On the one hand I do think it absurd that Beijing was chosen to host the upcoming Olympics, considering their horrendous record of human rights abuses both in the past and present. On the other hand however I think that this upcoming event presents us in the International community with a very rare opportunity to have a voice inside of China, and to speak up against the abuses that those living in mainland China and Tibet are subjected to but are powerless to speak out against or change themselves.

    In this respect I think that any international athlete wishing to voice their opinions against such human rights abuses should be free to do so vocally in which ever way they wish, by either boycotting the games completely or by somehow making their opinions known while in Beijing.

    Olympic charter 51 does not allow for any political, religious or racial demonstrations at Olympic venues.

    At the same time however the Olympic Games are however supposed to be a harmonious sporting event for all people in the world.

    There are 6 million Tibetans in China today living under forced Chinese rule, none of these individuals have been permitted to participate in these Olympics as free “Tibetan’s”. There are thousands of Falung Gung practitioners being used for illegal organ harvesting in China, obviously none of these individuals are able to attend let alone participate in these games. Additionally there are many other individuals in China being persecuted for their creed, beliefs etc. The list is endless.

    As a result of such circumstances it would seem fair to say that at these upcoming Games it would be immoral not to speak out, and as such Olympic charter 51 should be amended. Silence means consent. The Chinese government puts a lot of importance on it’s international image and is depending on these Olympic Games to win approval from the international community. As such it is only right that the international community, ATHLETES INCLUDED, should be allowed to speak out, both inside and outside of China, and further educate Hu Jinato and his government of what it means to be a civilized nation.

  44. 44 Ros Atkins
    February 12, 2008 at 11:26

    No,

    Athletes go to compete against the best in their field. They must be good ambassadors. There is a great responsibility on the shoulders of athletes to be good guest. Polite, mannerly and if anything they should bring only respect and good will. That is the one thing that will make all things better.

    troop

    Nehalem, Oregon

  45. February 12, 2008 at 11:37

    it is my belief that we should leave politics out of sports because it will do nobody any good getting involved. athlets going to beijing are going there to compete in sports and not to get invoved in chinese politics. if africans for instance begin to consider the politics involved in world football we might not henceforth accept to participate in the world cup.

  46. February 12, 2008 at 13:48

    i think that the olympics was created for the cause of unity and it has helped very much to bring togther countries that have had conflicts for decades like both korean republics and other countries in one stage
    that is sumthing spectaular to see and it is sumthing people want to see more of it in this tensed world we live today, and i dont think there evert gonna be any political aspect in the olympics ever or we do hope so.

  47. 47 Xie_Ming
    February 12, 2008 at 14:08

    Young people seem to think that a demonstrative gesture is a positive thing. Is that because they are young?

    If you had the responsibility of assuring that 1.3 billion people were fed and had their human needs met, what your priorities be?

    As a guest, what is your role? Obviously, to be a good athelete!

  48. 48 Ros Atkins
    February 12, 2008 at 15:02

    Dearest Ros : Thanks a million for yesterday’s programme my precious friend ! Hopefully David and I were able to prove something to “THEM”! As for the Olympics in Beijing : Sporting events should never be politicised for any reason ! Everybody around the world knows that China’s human rights record is so poor, and still Beijing was given the honour to host the Olympics… So in my opinion athletes should’ve spoken out before Beijing was given that honour, not now ! With my love ! Your friend forever, Lubna !

  49. 49 Radina Dimitrova
    February 12, 2008 at 15:34

    Political system in China obviously restricts chinese people and may be the rest of the world should accept these realities.Criticizing is a normal reaction but Chinese society still obeys different kind of rules.This is the main problem -politics should not interfere people’s lives and personal freedom.Regimes are turning into oppresive machines.International community cannot solve this delicate problem without speculating upon the more deep roots of the issue.Reconstructing the whole hierarchy,mentality-it seems eutopic .

  50. 50 Melinda via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:06

    i think athletes and all visitors should behave as courteous guests. If they wish to speak out, do so at home (i.e., not in China), before or after the Olympics. The Olympics are a world forum, true, but to be in someone’s “home” and set up an adversarial situation does not really make sense and it is plain old rude. The other alternative is for the athlete who wants to protest to stay home.

    Melinda, Portland OR

  51. 51 Andrew via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:15

    The point is that China should never have been allotted the Olympics in the first place, but we all now about selection procedures.

    Having said that, since the Chinese communists are basically using the 2008 Olympics as a huge propaganda event then why should athletes who are unfortunately drawn into competing in that environment and in that location not be allowed to express themselves. You would have thought that big totalitarian showpieces went out with the Moscow games but seems that in this now more enlightened age the Chinese seem to think that the world will swallow this rather juvenile, silly and embarrassing display by them in a few months time. Will this event be any different to the Mass Games that Nth Korea puts on?

    The athletes themselves did not select the venue and they have their own consciences, so why not let them speak out against this regime? Perhaps there is a clause in their contracts that prevents them from speaking out, but what about a situation where they are in a location where an oppressive regime operates or is using them to further its own propaganda, there should be a clause in the contract for the host nation also!

    Andrew
    Australia

  52. 52 Scott via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:16

    The Olympics are already a political event – it is a political look at me fest. Who’s the best country, which country has the better athletes!! It is not some saintly event – it is a vulgar competition about wining.


    Scott
    PORTLAND OR

  53. 53 Addy via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:18

    If it has any potential to reduce abuses, athletes should go right ahead and speak out.

  54. 54 Fred via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:18

    Should given the opportunity, athletes and anybody else who can speak for or against something their passionate about should. There are thousands of military folk who do not have freedom of speech because of their military service, but they are there so you have yours.

    Fred in Portland Oregon

  55. 55 Dan via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:19

    China always hides behind “It’s a matter of National Pride” and rejects criticism.
    However, when they are in other countries they never hesitate to voice their opinions.
    If China wants to join the community of nations they need to embrace Free Speech.

    Dan
    Titusville, FL

  56. 56 Joey
    February 12, 2008 at 18:20

    Thank you for the wonderful Chinese voices gracing the air!!

    We never hear from China on this program…I use to live there it’s a great place.
    2008 is auspicious in China, and it will be nice for the world to see more of China.

    Sincerely,

    Joe
    Colorado, USA

  57. 57 K MJUMBE
    February 12, 2008 at 18:22

    If the host country has granted visas for these athletes to perform, then it is imperative that such athletes abide my the laws of the host country.

    If athletes are so compelled to protest against the laws and/or conditions of the host country [without on the ground “i have live it” knowledge],then i suggest they do it from their home country base.

    But even more important such athletes should be working to address systemic human rights violations within their own home countries instead pointing the finger at regions that they might be not be knowledgeable of.

  58. 58 Tyler
    February 12, 2008 at 18:25

    Listening to the Chinese nationals and their attempted explanations makes me realize how grateful and appreciative I am for my own freedoms. I’m proud to be an American. I am proud for the qualities and values especially religious tolerance and the freedom of speech that America represents.

    Tyler
    Akron, Oh

  59. 59 Onajomo Akemu
    February 12, 2008 at 18:27

    What if Tommie Smith and John Carlos were not allowed to express their views from the medal podium at the Mexico City Olympics? What if a Sudanese athlete won a medal in Beijing and used the medal ceremony to protest against Chinese involvement in Darfur?

    Athletes have a right, some would argue a duty, to speak out. The olympics are much more than sports. It is politcs through and through.

  60. 60 Jane via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:27

    It’s naïve to say that the Olympics are about sports.

    China busted its you know what to secure the Olympics in order to guarantee a showcase for itself as a nation among nations in the new millennium. They are doing everything they can to focus the eyes of the world on them come this summer. You are arguing that athletes should bring their eyes to the competition, but not their voices.

    Jane in Portland, Oregon

  61. 61 Ebrima via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:28

    Because of the callous dis-regard of human right by the Chinese government, participants have the right
    to stand for the millions of the suppress Chinese for a show of support.

    Ebrima
    Writing from The Gambia
    West Africa

  62. 62 Eric via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:29

    such athlete who supposedly has something to raise against China, could we, the public, that s/he has also the courage not to wear socks, t-shirts, underwear, … made in China even though it is a western brand?!? You cannot criticise on one side and benefit on the other. Be credible.

    Cheers,

    Eric (Netherlands)

  63. 63 Fahad Khan
    February 12, 2008 at 18:30

    Why are we only talking about human rights when China is involved? The United States has invaded two countries, opened an internment camp for people captured in their “War on Terror” in Cuba where some of the people were captured as young teenagers and for crimes such as wearing Casio watches (according to released documents) and been the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths (according to International Law, the occupying country is responsible for law and order). They support dictators around the world similar to China’s support for Sudan so why single out China? The US has supported dictators in Indonesia, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.

    Amnesty International started a similar campaign in the West Indies against Sri Lanka for not fighting “fair” against the Tamil Tigers during the World Cup. Why didn’t they start a similar campaign against US abuses during the Superbowl or a similar event?

  64. 64 Amy
    February 12, 2008 at 18:31

    Not a good time.
    There’s been enough meddling in world politics, from people who don’t know what they are dealing with. What especially worries me is the American rose-tinted view of how to fix the world, and criticisms can be insensitive and create tensions and disadvantage to the nationals that the world will not know about.
    It makes sense if they want to criticise their own country and politics they understand, but athletes are not diplomats and it would be a big mistake to have the type of adrenalin-fueled situation like an oscar-winning speech.
    I’m quite offended by the American ignorance that I’m hearing on the radio already right now. Just like with Germany, it took a long time and it is not easy to make the transition. This kind of thing can take a whole step backwards.
    Even your human rights commentor does not understand the Chinese culture. Making comments on the Chinese efforts, it is Chinese culture and hospitality to go all out. It would be really good to show those people who have made sacrifices to accomodate the world, that the world recognises them…

  65. 65 Lynn via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:31

    If we accept the assertion that Americans are granted freedom of speech as a birth right, then it would be hypocritical for Americans to penalize American athletes for excersizing that right in any context. None the less, any athlete who speaks out would be subject to the laws of the country in which they make their statement. I hope that athletes will follow thier hearts, and that the Chinese will realize that the whole world will be watching their response.

    An American,
    Lynn

  66. 66 xianghuai lu
    February 12, 2008 at 18:32

    Why no one even say anything about “human righ” on 1988 South Korea Olympic, even their students protest face violent put down by the government?

    Why suddenly “human right” is an issue for Beijing Olympic ? Because western media still use cold war metality.

  67. 67 John in Utah
    February 12, 2008 at 18:37

    China has enough problems keeping its enormous population off the brink of social collapse, it doesn’t need Olympic athletes stirring up more trouble. China is constantly admonished by human rights groups already, can’t we just let them have the Olympics? Besides, any demonstration at the Olympics will be interpreted by most Chinese as a personal insight because the tightly controlled state media will spin it that way.

  68. 68 Scott via email
    February 12, 2008 at 18:41

    These comments are embarrassing! China competed to have the Olympics – they are not having us over for dinner. It is for political, economic and egoistical reasons that countries compete to host the Olympics. If they were truly being good hosts, as others have mentioned, then they would respect the free speech rights of their guests.

    Scott
    PORTLAND OR

  69. 69 Emile Barre
    February 12, 2008 at 22:24

    I think all junkies should have the right to freedom of speech including “atheletes”.

  70. 70 melinda
    February 13, 2008 at 00:48

    Does anyone think that the US will ever tire of telling ourselves and everyone else how great we are and how amazingly wonderful is democracy…and because we’re great and it’s great…you (China, Iraq, et al.) should be a democracy also. Here’s how you should begin and we’ll be there to guide you every step of the way…and if you should falter, we’ll put sanctions in place to bring you back in line with our perfect idea of democracy and treatment of our citizenry. i think the US athletes should keep their gobs shut lest they be ridiculed. We’re not at the high point of our popularity at the moment.

    How dare we tell anyone about human rights abuses? Yes, i believe that democracy is a good thing, but just like equality, it cannot be implanted by another. It must be won and perhaps even wrested from those who would deny us full privileges.

    Let’s look at how well perfect democracy works in action: How about a visit to Appalachia? Inner city poverty, squalor, and crime? Southern hospitality (y’all come but don’t dare sit under our oak tree)? D.C., filled with liars, schemers, crooks of the highest water?The US has no wiggle room to accuse any other government. Let us look to our own houses first. If the US athletes would like to say a few words about how Bush and Cheney should resign because they know in their hearts they should be impeached, of course they should speak out. But to criticize one’s “host” is in poor taste.

  71. 71 Helen, Australia
    February 13, 2008 at 02:48

    I agree with “Scott via email” and a number of others. Some of these comments are really embarrassing. So many of you seem unable to see the international political motivation behind China’s olympic bid and this years Beijing olympics.
    Some other comments also concern me.

    To “Chimeze from Nigeria” and others who voiced similar opinions… consider South Africa during the Apartheid system. How would you have felt if the IOC had back then allowed South Africa to host the Olympics. If that decision, hypothetically, had been made back then, and you could do nothing to change it… Do you really think that it would have been right for athletes to have gone to South Africa and participated in the Olympics without at the same time speaking out about the intolerable way in which the black people in South Africa were being treated? If so then I really don’t understand your moral conscience.

    If the Apartheid situation is hard to imagine, imagine instead if the IOC had hypothetically awarded the olympics to Berlin during the second world war? Do you really think that it would have been better for the athletes to stay away and not participate if they didn’t agree with Hitler’s war ethics? Perhaps by going into Germany and opening Germany up to the world, and speaking out about what was going on there, the lives of millions of innocent Jews and others could have been saved.

    To “Melinda via email” and others who have voiced similar opinions… consider if you were invited to someones house for a friendly and sporting but nontheless important “big” gathering. If you were aware that for example extreme child abuse was taking place in that home, would you really consider it disrespectful to speak out against what was going on? If so who exactly do you think you would be protecting by not speaking out? Would you all seriously not speak out for the sake of being “polite guests”? If so then again I really don’t understand your moral conscience.

    And finally to “Eric via email” and others who have voiced similar opinions, I totally agree with you. We must not be hypocritical… you can’t criticize a government on the one hand while still utilizing their exports. But please note that not all of us make that mistake. Personally, as much as I can, I refuse to buy products (car, computer, clothes etc) from any country or international COMPANY for that matter who are involved in the abuse of human rights, child labour included. It is however, sadly, very difficult to avoid this and it involves a lot of research, and at times even I find myself in situations where I have no option, but I do however try.

    I think that for some of you, unless you reverse the situation and REALLY PUT YOURSELVES in the position of those current individuals in China being exposed to horrific crimes against humanity, it may be difficult for you to truly get this situation in perspective. So please for a minute consider yourselves, children or parents, or any members of your family or loved ones in any of the following situations, being one of Eg;

    1) The Falung Gung population who are currently being used for “ILLEGAL ORGAN HARVESTING” (Please google for more info) or,

    2) The 6 million Tibetans who are living under forced Chinese rule (Please google for more info)… the Buddhists among those who are not even allowed to own “photographs or books (anything)” related to the Dalai Lama, their cultural and spiritual leader (himself a peaceful and vocal international human rights advocate, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, whom the Chinese government claim to be a separatist),or

    3) The 10 thousand Chinese individuals who are (reportedly/officially) put to death EACH year, under a system of Capital punishment, or

    4) The thousands of individuals held in captive in China, as prisoners of conscience, who are imprisoned simply for speaking out against the government, for perhaps speaking out against any of the previous three points, or simply for voicing opinions different to those of the Communist Party.

    The list really is endless. If you were in any of the above situations, what would you want the international athletes coming to your country to do?

    As fellow human beings, brothers and sisters (athletes, included) we MUST, stand up for one another, help one another and show compassion towards one another, not only to those around us but to all human beings. Perhaps then our world would be a better place. I do have hope.

    SILENCE MEANS CONSENT.

  72. 72 George USA
    February 13, 2008 at 12:50

    Steven Spielberg gave us Schindler’s List, the true story of a German who saved Jews from the gas chamber in Nazi Germany genocide.

    Three cheers for Spielberg pulling out of Olympics because of the Sudan genocide.

    That does not change athletes situation- if they go to the Olympic, no political protests.

  73. 73 Neil McGowan
    February 13, 2008 at 13:30

    Of course, the BBC Website itself is entirely blocked in China. (I know this from personal experience of trying to access it from many cities in China, although of course the Chinese will lie as usual about this). What is it that the Leadership of the PRC can’t accept about the BBC News website?

    If you think that’s bad, then ask why Wikipedia is banned in China? Why can’t you access that? Again, because the Leadership of China stays in power by LYING to its people, and censoring all access to outside sources of information.

    Two Chinese students appeared on the program? Well, how do you think they got foreign passports to travel to Britain? In China it’s only spineless servants of the Communist State who are allowed to travel abroad. I wonder who their parents are – some high-placed Communist officials? So it’s no surprise these students “think” (ie “were told to say by their bosses”) that sport should be kept separate. Otherwise they’ll be shot when they go home.

  74. 74 Amy
    February 13, 2008 at 14:04

    I am fed up with the BBC World Service being peppered with American opinion. Not just on this site, but on the radio too. Some self-righteous American professors and so on should really have a good dig at their own country and criticise their own government for their dubious human rights record with Guantanamo Bay prisoners at the moment.
    World politics involves more than a stroppy boycott or words of condemnation. And much more than a country’s quick fire at randomly identified villains and then wanting to wash its hands of the deconstruct that ensues.
    The world does not respect the criticism from a country that thinks it can justify its own OPEN infringement of human rights because of its paranoia, and American critics of China (particularly those who compare China to Nazi-Germany – highly distasteful and offensive because Sudan, for these ignorant people is NOT in China) should look at the American support given to countries it approves of.
    Look at the financial support that you have given to governments/rebels you think have a nobel cause.
    Steven Spielberg is a good artist but shouldn’t let his head get too big. I know that some of America’s politicians, even presidents, are ex-film stars and celebs, but the real world needs diplomacy rather than egos overinflated by the testosterone pumping power drug of having one finger constantly on the nuclear war button.

    I propose that America withdraws all its athletes from the Olympics, which would help its current recession because it’s shipping over so much food and specialist chefs they might as well stage their own American Olympics at home. That would give the rest of the world more of a chance of enjoying the Olympics for what it is!

  75. 75 Amy
    February 13, 2008 at 14:12

    Helen from Australia, please say something to your fellow Australians to deal with the inherent racism and underlying “apartheid” I was shocked to find in my recent visit to your country.
    Some people in “developed” countries think that it’s that simple. This “apartheid” exists in USA as well – something identified by many whites now backing Obama in a hope that it will bring about change.

    Speaking out, insulting such a government is like the bombing campaign on Sadam Hussein – ineffective and ill-informed. Your own country is massive but doesn’t have half the population of China and still can’t sort its own problems out, China is quite a bit more complicated. Shouting China down instead of showing support for the nationals that you seem to care about so much, is such an immature view on Chinese politics.

    It makes me so angry that there are so many “Western” countries that do not learn from their past meddling in politics. This bullish attitude is so distructive and has so far only served to distance the States from the rest of the world, think carefully about being very simplistic about your attitude.

  76. 76 John in Salem
    February 13, 2008 at 14:34

    Kudos to Spielberg for taking a stand.
    No one should be let off the hook for just being nice when company comes. Sponsors, organizers and the press have a responsibility to demand answers while the world is watching.

  77. 77 John in Salem
    February 13, 2008 at 14:51

    Well, excuuuuuuuse me, Amy!
    I’m sure the people of Darfur will be glad to know we stopped to figure out who is best qualified to critisize the Chinese before somebody said something!

  78. 78 Jeff Minter
    February 13, 2008 at 15:23

    I fear for the chinese population NOT in China who have settled in their respective countries, if we keep this hatred towards “the chinese” up we will see persecution and ethnic cleansing on a local scale.

  79. 79 Amy
    February 13, 2008 at 15:33

    “Qualified”? I think much of the world is fed up with Big Brother USA thinking it knows best what everyone else should be doing, whilst ignoring its own problems.
    I think Melinda has the most sense when it comes to understanding that even the USA should recognise its place in the world, instead of constantly taking the moral high ground. I don’t hate Americans at all, and I wish some of you would do your country a favour and remove the plank in your own eye before trying to criticise your brother for the speck in his.

    I take great offence at Neil McGowan’s highly patronising and condescending comments. The amount of Chinese students being allowed out of China is a sign of China’s opening up to the outside world. Some of the students coming out are already professionals within China, and if you had the privilege to work/study with some of them, you would realise there is a lot to learn from them. Especially for their humbleness and lack of judgment on the west’s prejudice against them.
    Needless to say, many of them return to China as a matter of preference, to use the new ideas they have learnt to help China’s progress and journey into a more open government. If you knew anything about China, you would no longer use the term “Communist” so loosely…in fact, it is with great regret that I see capitalist materialistic ideas seeping into China’s cities, draining its rural life, breaking up families…what a great export from the West!

  80. 80 John in Salem
    February 13, 2008 at 17:16

    Amy~
    Let’s get something straight here. I know enough about China to know the difference between the Chinese people and the Chinese government. Only an idiot would blame the people for the policies of their government.
    Most people also realize there is a difference between the American people and the American government.
    The Chinese people made their mistake decades ago and have been paying the price ever since.
    Americans are given the opportunity to choose a new government every four years. Sometimes we’re wrong, and the current government is arguably the worst this country has ever seen. The majority of us are horrified at what is being done in our names.
    But the average American is still giving aid to third world countries at a rate far beyond any other nation. We have thousands of people and billions of dollars waiting for the chance to help Darfur and right now the Chinese (government) is the biggest obstacle.
    You want to whine about us pious Americans pointing fingers and telling people what to do, you go right ahead.
    But I don’t think the ones who now line up for food and medical care are going to think much of your logic.

  81. 81 Jeremy via email
    February 13, 2008 at 17:16

    I support Spielberg’s stand.
    One of the comments from the Chinese nationals complained that the world should not expect China to be responsible for what goes on in other countries. I disagree, China wants to be recognized as a world presence economically and politically but they also need to understand that with that recognition comes responsibillty to be a good global citizen. That means taking a stand for what’s right in Darfur.

    Jeremy
    Grand Rapids, Michigan USA

  82. 82 Amy
    February 13, 2008 at 18:43

    Thanks for the last post John. Please note that I said “some” of you deliberately. I must reiterate that I far from hate the American people, God knows and I do not need to prove that to you. It frustrates me that it is some of those Americans who clamour for a loud voice to the outside world, that misrepresent the American people with often ignorant and empty sounding words.

    You did take it very personally and addressed me in a very direct way, so I felt that I wanted to reply on some issues. However, I realise that, in a similar way that I cannot get across my concerns for the Chinese people’s wellbeing on a wallpost, I have also infuriated you personally and this is not an effective way to communicate, just as making closed statements on an Olympic podium would not be dialogue but allegation.

    I respect your views and hope that you are not calling me an idiot – I just beg to differ.

    As for calling the Chinese government to account etc. my basic point is, that people need to understand the nature of the country we are discussing here. It is not an out and out democracy. What really worries me is everyone here is viewing the situation from the standpoint of their own culture, the Chinese people will be viewing it from the standpoint of their culture and the access that they have to the outside world. Just as bombing Saddam out of Iraq was not a quick fix, shooting a few accusatory words at the Chinese government may just steel their pride even though it will not be obvious because they will want to save face.

    Going about it in this way, and without understanding of the internal affairs/culture of China, may only serve to re-alienate the people from the outside world and shame China into withdrawing back into its more reclusive ways. The people will resort to the government they know and understand etc. etc. But I find myself weary of this discussion… seeing as there are so many Americans on this page, anyone here not an atheist and have a heart to pray for China (and Dafur for that matter) and its government, without actually diving into any rash actions (including an Olympic-masked crusade)?

  83. 83 Syed Hasan Turab
    February 13, 2008 at 20:26

    PLEASE LEAVE THE OLYMPIC ALONE FROM INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, EACH & EVERY KNOWS REALITY OF” CROCKDILE TEARS” PLEASE STOP IT.

  84. 84 John in Salem
    February 13, 2008 at 21:07

    No, Amy, I was not implying you are an idiot.
    Your point is well taken. Criticizing the Chinese government has never achieved much in the past and would probably be wasted effort and in any case nothing negative will make it down to the common person anyway, who most likely has never even heard of Darfur.

  85. 85 Helen, Australia
    February 14, 2008 at 02:11

    Amy, you really need to come off your “high horse” yes OK good point, and I’m glad that by your comments you seem to care for the Chinese people, but you also need to do some research of your own.

    Firstly at the moment the discussion concerns China, hence the focus on China, it’s that simple.

    Yes, “apartheid” like systems exist in many, many countries. When writing in a “blog” environment such as this one however one must make reasonably simple points, and illustrate with examples which the majority of readers will be familiar with. To discuss this issue in full would require several bound volumes.

    Australia, as you quite rightly pointed out, has had a very bad history in terms of the situation concerning Australian Aboriginals (which is what you are referring to). A few points however which clearly distinguish Australia from China when it comes to such issues…

    My previous response was written after I had just watched a 45 min or so live broadcast from Parliament House in Australia where, being the first day of parliament 2008, our newly elected Prime Minister made a truly historic speech where he apologized to the Australian Aboriginals for past wrongs done to them by the government of Australia. The speech was extremely open, honest and explicit and described why particular events had occurred, why the thinking on behalf of the government at that time concerning such events was so wrong etc. He asked all members of parliament who may not have agreed with his opinion to put themselves in the position of the Aboriginals, and then reconsider. He repeatedly apologized to the Aboriginal community and asked for their forgiveness. He promised to work towards completely eradicating the differences in statistics concerning white and black Australians, such as mortality rate, literacy etc. Additionally he gave a time-line for this venture. He asked that all Australian’s, black and white, now move together and effectively walk together as one. The leader of the opposition then responded by 100% backing the prime minister with an even more explicit speech outlining wrongs which had been committed and similarly asked for the forgiveness of the Aboriginal people. Both leaders then stood together on the same side of the bench to a standing ovation by members and the aboriginal community present, they then personally, one by one, shook hands and hugged those aboriginal leaders etc present.

    I thank the Australian prime minister for taking such a stand, one which many of us in Australia have been requesting for many years. For the first time I felt proud to be an Australian and felt proud of our government. It has filled many of our hearts with hope for the future of our nation.

    I challenge other world leaders to have the guts to lay themselves bare in the same way, to openly acknowledge their current and historical failures and to ask for forgiveness, to move forwards towards reconciliation in such an honest and intentionally deliberate way.

    I don’t think such an event has ever taken place in China. I don’t think the communist party has ever asked for forgiveness for the wrongs done to the Tibetan people.

    Additionaly, concerning Australia, while in the past the situation has hardly been close to equal for white and black Australians, successive governments have however respected the unique identity of the Aboriginal people and have tried to rectify the situation. Aboriginal culture and beliefs have been and are taught at all Australian schools. At all school assembly’s, and cultural gatherings, such as Australia Day, before singing the national anthem, Australians all verbally acknowledge the rights of the aboriginal people, as being the true owners of the land upon which we all live. Additionally Aboriginal Australians have in the past participated in the Olympic games and displayed the aboriginal flag (recall Cathy Freeman) and indeed when Sydney hosted the games, both flags were present and the aboriginal community played a significant part in the opening ceremony, the aim being again to highlight their importance and unique culture and history.

    As you can see, while there are, have been significant problems in this area, it is far from what you refer to as an “Apartheid” system. Yes far from perfect, and no doubt we still have a long way to go, but ongoing efforts and attempts at reconciling the situation, which is highly complex, (no doubt a lot more complex than you may have appreciated on your “holiday”) have been ongoing, and yesterday marked a landmark step in the right direction towards rectifying the situation.

    None of this can be said for the Chinese government. As we all know, not only do they not apologize for wrongs and move towards reconciliation, they instead falsify history, effectively forbid freedom of speech and censor everything.

    Anyway Amy, I think you are actually missing the point. I don’t think anyone is talking about a quick fix to the situation in China, that would be completely ignorant (Neither is anyone talking about bombing it for that matter. The fact that America, and other countries including my own, took such action in Iraq and Afghanistan is outrageous). What we are at the moment discussing is freedom of speech. Effectively opening up China to the views of the rest of the world and in doing so, in a peaceful way, attempting to help her move forward for the sake of all.

    Please note, understanding the nature and culture of a country does not mean that certain crimes against humanity should be dealt with necessarily delicately or even sensitively. Certain actions will always be considered morally wrong regardless of the culture. For example, in no culture should the sexual abuse of children be tolerated.

    Finally, Amy concerning my knowledge concerning Chinese politics… my knowledge is far from misinformed and my attitude is far from simplistic or as you say “immature”. Let’s stay out of the sandpit level of bickering, that is what displays immaturity.

  86. 86 Jeff Minter
    February 14, 2008 at 10:22

    Helen, you have some nerve asking why China hasn’t “apologised” to the chinese in Tibet (or tibetans, to the outside world). Australia spent 200 years taking the Aborigines’ land, plundering their resources, taking the women they deemed worthy for whatever purpose, stole their pride, ruined their entire civilisation…. present day, “Eh sorry we did all that, but you can apply for jobs now OK? To the future!”

    Once again, pot meeting kettle.

  87. 87 Jeff Minter
    February 14, 2008 at 11:47

    Of course, no-one has yet to mention that Sudan wouldn’t be in this mess if the British (and French, Belgian, Egyptians before) had managed to create some semblance of society during their reign there. Instead, they simply regarded it as another territory of the empire.

    And this was only 50 years ago!!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudan#Anglo-Egyptian_Sudan_1899-1956

  88. 88 Helen, Australia
    February 14, 2008 at 12:31

    No denying it Jeff, Australia has a truly disgusting history when it comes to treatment of the Australian Aboriginals, an era of abuse which I really hope is now being addressed properly. But do you really think Jeff that that fact should prevent me or anyone else from Australia from speaking out against human right’s abuses in China, or any other country for that matter? I’ve campaigned for human rights in Australia for many years now, as I do for human rights internationally. I’m not “Australia”… I’m an individual living there.

    Just because “your” country has abused human rights in the past, which I’ll bet it has done, because none have clean histories, does that mean that you Jeff can’t speak up against human rights abuses in other countries? Seriously… come on? Where’s the logic in that position?

    If you want to come from that perspective that would entail that not one of us have the right to speak up for human rights in any other country than our own. So where does that leave us…? Follow your idea thoroughly through to it’s logical conclusion and you’ll have us all back in the dark ages!

  89. 89 Amy
    February 14, 2008 at 13:40

    Thank you John. It has been an enriching experience and I have learnt some things about my approach to an online discussion that need refining! I dare say I need to work on my own diplomacy skills.

    Dear Helen, you missed my point totally and got worked up and I’m sorry. I was in no way comparing China to Australia, neither was I even criticising Australians. I used the word “Apartheid” in inverted commas for a reason, and it refers to a different post.
    As Jeff rightly pointed out, it has taken Australians many years to get to this point. Chinese history is ancient and politics is just as complex but in a different way. I am tempted to get myself into this conversation again, but I think it’s best I don’t.

    The whole world needs to apologise to each other in some way or another -wouldn’t it be shocking if someone stood up and apologised to China for some past western ‘wrongs’ – some albeit committed perhaps with benevolent intent? Just a random thought that is not intended to trivialise China’s current human rights wrongs, before anyone gets offended again…

  90. 90 Richard, London
    February 21, 2008 at 15:01

    When we pay attention to Sudan, we immediately understand every thing in past 10 years. In 1998, US bombed Chinese Embassy, and then, Sudan’s secret warriors bombed US Embassy in Africa. In 2001, US shoot down a Chinese Military Flight in South China Sea. Then again, warriors trained in Sudan and Afganstan made 911. Let’s see how much China gave to Sudan: $15 billion! It’s sure not only for Oil!

    Let’s see what western politicians and secret agents “rewarded” to their new master Chinese Communists: thousands dead in 911 and London bus were not enough to placate our new “God”’s anger, we need send more American and Brits to die in Iraq, to remove a western ally(dog?) who had western’s long-term support before 1991.

    Today, after cursing our those death-deserved bastttards in 911 and London Bus, our politicians and secret agents act very cooperative and smart: both Bush and Brown will crawll to Beijing to kneee down before our new worshiped lord — Chinese communists and Beijing Olympic.

    Should we all kneee down and worship our New Master Chinese Power? Does this mean accurately what we say of “democracy” or ” human rights”?

  91. 91 Dennis
    May 11, 2008 at 21:11

    Good Job Mr. Spielberg telling China NO THANKS….

    Dennis from Madrid, U.S.A.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: