Boycott the Olympics?

olympicsIn the next few weeks there will be a growing public outcry for the United States and many other major nations to boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing.

It bears refreshing our memory that China is, indeed, one of the worst human rights violators on the planet. Up until 2008 China was on the State Departments list of 10 worst human rights violators in the world.

Obviously, the Tibet issue is front page news today. But let’s not forget about the other continued violations. Organ harvesting. No political freedom. No freedom of the press. No freedom of speech. No freedom of movement. No freedom to work. No religious freedom. And of course the one-child policy which has led to female infanticide, forced abortions, selective abortion, and abandonment.

There is little doubt that the last 10 years has seen lots of reform in China. But I think it is worth thinking through… should the United States support an Olympic Games in a nation with such widespread human rights problems? How can we sit idly, pretend everything is OK, watch coverage on NBC and do nothing? Of course, the Olympic Team from our country will go. A boycott is not plausible. It’s all about money and everyone would say that a boycott would be bad for the economy. And it would be bad for US/China business relationships. There are a lot of palms to be greased, a lot of hospitality tents to fill, and a lot of complimentary freebies to give to one another in the name of the Olympics.

If we don’t come up with an answer, expect to see a lot more stuff like this…



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3 responses to “Boycott the Olympics?”

  1. Andrea Avatar

    For obvious reasons, this is a topic of particular interest to me. I have been following it pretty closely.

    I don’t think that the Chinese people are to blame for their government’s trespasses on human rights, except in their PASSIVITY. I think that many of them live their lives in blithe ignorance of what really goes on. I wish they would WAKE UP and see what’s going on around them, and stop accepting the propaganda the government feeds them. That’s where I think a news-worthy protest might come in handy.

    But of course, even though they may hear about the protests in Paris and London, or if there is a boycott, they are all going to be told that the Tibetans are to blame, the Dalai Lama is evil, the Americans are jerks, that the Western news is full of lies, that it’s only a few troublemakers in France who protested, everyone else loves China. Anything but the truth. (By the way, all of those statements are paraphrases of things that Chinese students have actually told me)

    It makes me so MAD.

  2. adam mclane Avatar

    Awesome thoughts Andrea! I appreciate the “Chinese student perspective” and I love that you’re getting to know so many international students!

    Of course, everyone living in a city under the One Child law experiences a human rights violation personally.

    And seeing that they live under communist rule I don’t see freedom of the press as giving them the chance to “wake up.” How do you suggest they get out from under the propaganda?

    Interestingly, bringing in millions of visitors for the Olympics may actually work in the favor of bringing the world’s spotlight and forcing open free speech. Certainly, tens of thousands of news reporters will be in China for the games… and you won’t be able to shut them all up. (BBC Asia is now accessible in China according to NPR)

    My hope is for a peaceful revolution. I know that’s an oxymoron… but I’d love to see the Games [since they have to go on] be a major part of bringing the human rights issues to the front-burner of the world’s attention.

    I think its time Christians start caring desperately about human rights. Both in their own backyard and around the world. It’s time we WAKE UP too.

  3. Andrea Avatar

    I saw this today, and it emphasizes my point:

    A Chinese student is quoted as saying ““I think they are crazy. The Chinese people are very peaceful. They wouldn’t do what they are accused of.”

    I forgot to say, earlier, the whole point of my comment: I think it would be sad for Chinese people if the Olympics are disrupted (as they already have been), because they have come a long way since the 1960s and deserve recognition. However, that doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to what their government has done.

    It occurred to me that the Olympics could be a good medium to bring these sorts of things to the attention of the world…now that I reflect on it, it’s really a great way to do it (as opposed to, say, a war). But the Chinese are so used to seeing the world as their government paints it, it might be slow and painful for them to come to terms with reality.

    I think you are right, that Christians need to start caring less about D/R, and start caring more about things like the environment, human rights, the hungry, and the poor. If they start doing that, it might do a lot to cast a more positive light on Christianity.

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