Spielberg and the Olympics

This story is certainly going to pump new life into the Boycott the 2008 Olympics movement. The Chinese were full of pride that Spielberg was going to help choreograph the much anticipated Opening Ceremony on August 8, and that pride will be tranformed into resentment and indignation very soon. (It appears, by the way, that nearly every link to the topic on Google News activates the dreaded “Server not Found” window.)

The question of a boycott is a difficult issue that brings out a lot of raw emotion on both sides. The Chinese government is often unjust, unfair, deceptive, inhumane and oppressive beyond words. Should it be punished by an international boycott of the Olympics? Should advocacy groups be using the Games to press their causes? Who would such a boycott serve? How accountable should China be for the behavior of its allies? You can find lots of ammunition to call for a boycott, but to what end?

In the shadow of the $440-million “bird’s nest” Olympic stadium, migrant workers toil for a few dollars a day. A few miles away, bulldozers destroy a neighborhood where petitioners gather to seek justice from the government. Farther afield, foreign journalists endure sporadic harassment despite promised press freedoms, with Chinese reporters, bloggers and activists facing far greater restrictions.

As Beijing prepares for the 2008 Summer Olympics in August, planners hope the outside world sees the glam architecture and ignores the poverty and social tension in the shadows.

“The Chinese way to say it is, we’re looking for ‘big face’ from the Games,” said Liu Junning, an analyst with the Chinese Cultural Studies Institute in Beijing.

New concerns emerged Tuesday when film director Steven Spielberg announced his withdrawal as artistic advisor for the Games over China’s support for the Sudanese government despite ongoing violence in the Darfur region.

The public relations blow came as eight Nobel Prize winners, 119 U.S. lawmakers and several entertainers signed a letter urging Chinese leaders to use their “significant influence” with the African nation to halt the genocide.

China doesn’t have a monopoly on attracting the anger of activists or on attempting to put its best foot forward. But the enormous gap in this restless country between wealthy 21st century cities and benighted 19th century rural areas, between egalitarian rhetoric and the reality of today’s cutthroat capitalism, raises the stakes.

Beijing is working much harder to airbrush out the negatives than previous Olympic hosts, reflecting in part a regime accustomed to controlling its media and critics.

China has courted, as I’ve said many times here, the murdering scum of the earth. Its engineer-leaders see the nation’s foreign policy in mathematical terms; the grid shows them where the resources are, what they have to pay to get them, and what their return on investment will be. The grid does not factor in human suffering, genocide or crimes against humanity. The question is, should the Olympics be used as a mechanism for punishing China for its sleeping with butchers?

A hard question. If someone asked me in 1935 if I would recommend boycotting the Games of 1936 I’d have a hard time answering. In 1936 we still did not know what history had in store for us, no matter how loathsome Hitler was. Maybe we’d have thought the Olympics would have a healing effect, injecting some badly needed sanity into a deranged Nazi Germany. (Of course, it didn’t turn out that way.) Had the Games been scheduled for 1938, however, and I were asked the same question after Kristallnacht I would have been the first to insist on a complete boycott. The German government was an accomplice to premeditated murder.

I am not comparing the policies of the CCP to the Nazis; if I could do that, I would be calling for a boycott. Rather, I’m trying to deal with the question, when is a boycott called for? In my opinion, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan did not make the grade, and America’s invasion of Iraq doesn’t either – i.e., these oppressive and stupid acts merit condemnation but not across the board boycotts, even of sporting events, that punish the entire nation. We can list the iniquities of modern-day China and find a lot of grounds for outrage. But do we make them grounds for boycotting the Olympics?

As I argued in another thread, it isn’t that hard to find horror stories about the US under Bush, and of many other nations. (And no, I am not saying the US is as bad as China.) Should all these nations be boycotted? Should the Olympic Games be seen as a bargaining chip for advocacy groups? Should other nations shun America for the policies of our dim-witted president, and should our athletes be punished for it the way they were under Carter? Would the US boycott of the Beijing Olympics serve as a healthy precedent?

As I write about this, I have to admit I have mixed feelings. China has made a pact with the devil, pumping money into a regime that promotes genocide and then putting up pictures all over town of giraffes and elephants celebrating China’s harmonious and joyful partnership with Africa. But pacts with the devil are nothing new. What are our criteria for demanding an international boycott of any event in any country? Would we feel so comfortable with those criteria to have them imposed on our own country, whatever that may be?

Bottom line for me at this moment: China’s relationship with the government of Sudan is not sufficient grounds for a boycott. I think it would create many more problems than it would solve, and it would certainly do little for those suffering in Darfur.

As a disclaimer, I work with more than one company here that has a stake in the 2008 Olympics. I try not to let that affect my perception of what’s happening here in China. In fact, my work has only caused me to be more critical than ever of the incompetencies and stupidities of the Chinese bureaucracy. And no, I do not in any way, shape or form answer to anyone involved in the government here, despite harebrained reports that I am on the CCP payroll. That is utter nonsense.

Apologies in advance for not taking a super-hard stance either way on this question. This post is more about questions than answers.

The Discussion: 93 Comments

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” James Thurber

February 13, 2008 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

In the same way the exposure of China to the world economy deeply changed its own economy and society, could the exposure to such media intensive events like the Olympics influence somehow its political behavior?

Either if it is right or wrong to boycott the Olympics, there is going to be a lot flashing points before and during the games.

How deftly China handles them it is going to have a deep impact on the international perception of the country.

If they are smart enough, just by doing a little they could get enough good press.
If not, the probability of a backlash is going to be high.
I hope they can handle it in a smarter way than the Qianlong Empepor 😉

Time is running short. I am starting to perceive a strong change in the stance of many westerners to China. Specially in the US but also in the EU. Not a good thing for China. Even small trifles that in the past went unnoticed have a much deeper impact now.

And yes… We are going to get a lot of flak from China friends and Chinese that feel hurt in its national pride
We are going to see the same arguments again… “And you too or even worst… etc … etc..” 😉

February 13, 2008 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

“Bottom line for me at this moment: China’s relationship with the government of Sudan is not sufficient grounds for a boycott.”

A boycott would be a disaster, both in terms of China’s relationship with the west and its response to the largest imaginable loss of face. Such a rebuff would see anti-western sentiment reach unprecedented heights, and leave the CCP searching for victory of another kind in order to satisfy the resultant nationalistic fervour. I’m certain that this would involve the military and Taiwan.

The threat of a boycott, however, has been used to some effect in gaining leverage on certain issues from the Chinese government. That has to be a good thing. And during the those two weeks in August, given a full complement of nations and attendant journalists, the abused, the maltreated, the exploited, and the dispossessed will all have their day in the sun.

What remains to be seen is whether or not China can channel the national pride that will follow winning most gold medals in a positive way. Taiwan could still take the brunt. But without an Olympics I feel Taiwan would become a war zone.

February 13, 2008 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

It’s most unfortunately that Spielberg has allowed himself to become a celebrity pawn of the boycott boobs.

February 13, 2008 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

some thoughts:

i understand that this post brings up the wider issue of the boycott, but my understanding is that spielberg isn’t calling for a boycott, but doesn’t want to work with the ccp which seems fair enough.

the ccp, like all govts, want to engage the world on their own terms. this isn’t going to happen anymore for them than for anyone else and they have to accept this.

the ccp has to understand that just because someone is against them, doesn’t mean they accept it in their own country. human rights activists are anti-war just as they are anti-ccp.

personally, speaking as an englishman, i don’t want the olympics in london. i think that the money would be spent better on other projects. i feel much the same way about china. however, i understand i am in the minority.

i’d be happy for other countries to call for a boycott of the us and the uk until they leave iraq. it might spur the govts into action and make them understand there are consequences for their actions. i’d also support any calls for the london olympics to be boycotted on those grounds. i’d support these because these would be principled actions that might have an effect.

i also saw in wikipedia (i know, crap source) that china boycotted the 1980 olympics for political reasons. interesting that that isn’t mentioned in the chinese press….perhaps someone could enlighten me why it was ok to use political reasons to boycott moscow, but not ok to use these to boycott beijing?

February 13, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

“i also saw in wikipedia (i know, crap source) that china boycotted the 1980 olympics for political reasons.”

Interesting. Never knew that. This could be a good debate …

February 13, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Comment

Si, Spielberg isn’t calling for a boycott. But his decision will definitely give momentum to the movement(s) pressing for a boycott (and there are many – FLG, Free Tibet, etc., Dream for Darfur).

I agree with most of what you say, si, but also agree with Stuart – a boycott is not the answer. And I can’t agree on a boycott on America until we get out of Iraq. It would be heartbreaking to see so many decent people punished, their businesses ruined and dreams shattered, because of our nasty little president

February 13, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

With a higher than $90 oil price, energy shortage and economic slowdown in China, no way that any leader will give up the oil contracts at this time. If the price of getting necessary resource is being criticized or even boycotted, too bad. So be it.

February 13, 2008 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

If there’s a boycott, there’s a boycott. Had boycotts for worse reasons before: there’s no need to handle the Chinese government with kid gloves. They certainly won’t do the same to their people.

February 13, 2008 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

@fatbrick

you maybe interested in this article

http://tinyurl.com/yq2r2y

which argues that china has developed oil with other regimes and doesn’t necessarily need sudan

@richard

i see what you mean about ordinary us businesses. but i think the call for a boycott or the serious discussion of one, is perfectly valid for the us, uk and china.

and i’d like to get a pre-emptive strike in (if that’s the right word) at people who will argue spielberg should criticise israel blah blah. the point is with the olympics he was directly supporting a govt project, something (as far as i am aware) he doesn’t do for the us govt.

February 13, 2008 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

But what about oil?

Before we get too excited about Darfur, China and the Olympics, let us consider the world oil market. Remember there is only one oil market in the world and the oil price is driven by supply and demand. If we boycott Sudanese, Venezuelan, or even Russian oil for human rights, idealogical, or political reasons, oil supply will shrink and the price skyrocket.

If it does not buy oil from Sudan, China will have to buy it somewhere else. This can easily push up the world oil price much further and people in the US will pay more than $5.00 per gallon.

Oil is a serious issue. Once there is shortage, oil producing countries will hold production rate down to maintain high price for their own national interest. And speculators will come in to push the price to an extraordinary level. If this happens, we will worry about a much bigger recession than what we have in the US now.

February 13, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

We haven’t thanked Obama enough for all he’s done for America and the Olympics. The caucuses are for him and so are the major corporations!!!!!

February 13, 2008 @ 11:56 pm | Comment

About Oil:

I think it is time for the big nations, mainly USA, China and EU, to reach an agreement to better coordinate access to energy resources.

Instead of stepping on each other about each resource rich country, they should try to improve cooperation to promote a smoother energy market.

It would take a lot of strategic pressure out of China and ease tensions with the USA.
Could now be a good time to try it?

About the boycott:
I would not like the games to be spoiled, it would be a pity. But here is the ball on the Chinese side now. They can do more to prevent it than anyone else.

February 14, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Comment

I think the Chinese government’s line on keeping politics out of the Olympics is a bit of a farce. Aren’t they the ones who have turned a two-week sporting event into the country’s defining political event for the decade?

But that aside, I agree with the ambivalence about any boycott related to Sudan. So many countries have their fingers dirty on the international stage, where would the boycotts even begin or end? What’s going on in Sudan is reprehensible, but so is what’s going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, DR Congo, Kenya…you name it!

However, I think it is fair to take host city/countries to task for bad domestic behaviour relating specifically to the hosting of the Olympics. I agree that it would be nice to keep politics as far away from the Olympic circus as possible, but this is difficult in cases when the hosting of the games itself is the source of significant political grandstanding, repression of dissent and destructive urban remodeling (CCP and 2008, anyone?).

I would argue this is certainly the case in China, as it has been with several previous games and major international events in other countries as well. Looking good to visitors, unfortunately, usually means hiding problems instead of solving them. As many have now commented, repression of dissent in China has been strengthened specifically to make China look so spotless for the Games.

How the IOC didn’t see this coming, I have no idea. Maybe they visited some pretty skyscrapers.

It would have been better if all involved had taken a more honest tone from the start, along the lines of “yeah, we know China will bulldoze half the city, dump anyone falling below a certain income level out in the boonies and lock up anyone with a half-critical independent thought, but at the same time we feel it’s about time the most populated nation in the world have its turn.”

Many more people would have settled for that rather than this notion that hosting the Olympics would somehow turn the PRC into a shining beacon on the hill.

February 14, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Comment

Imagine instead of Smith and Carlos making that gesture to protest the civil right condition in the US on a 1968 Olympic medal podium, it was 2 Soviet athletes. I think the message would have been considered by most intelligent people as a farce.

Same here. Unless countries such as South Africa and Nigeria, or the AU start the talk of boycott or calling the war in Darfur a genocide, all these charades are a farce to me.

February 14, 2008 @ 12:34 am | Comment

call me a wacky hippy but shouldn’t we be cooperating on exploring alternative clean energy sources rather than working out how we can pollute in a more efficient manner?

anyway here’s china’s response:

http://tinyurl.com/yv9l4p

February 14, 2008 @ 12:42 am | Comment

The Save Darfur people involved in Tuesday’s actions are stopping short of a boycott call, instead advocating that concerned people stay away and ignore TV broadcasts of the events or the ceremonies. They say a boycott hurts athletes who’ve spent their lives training.

I’d worry about the backlash an actual boycott would bring and about the PRC government’s talent at directing the righteous wrath of its people at convenient targets, regardless of whether said targets advocated a boycott.

February 14, 2008 @ 12:53 am | Comment

Si, all those talks about alternative clean energy right now are just still talks. Look at oil price and coal price. Look at the corn, soybean, and wheat price.

It is wishful thinking that one day we will have a clean air and peace by abandoning oil and the wars and conflicts derived from the competition for oil. The challenge is very real to provide enough and cheap electricity, gas, and fertilizers for China in 2008. Compared with these problems, the bad PR to the Game is trivial.

February 14, 2008 @ 12:58 am | Comment

The Olympic Game is a party. To a sports fan, there are so many subplots in the event. For instance, in 2004 Argentina was the first country that won both men’s basketball and football golds; Japan ranked #4 in men’s 4×400 relay, which was the highest for a team without black athletes since the reunification of Germany.

Had there not been the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Game, Edwin Moses would’ve been likely 3-peaking men’s 400m hurdle — but nothing compared to Carl Lewis’ 4-peak in men’s long jump, which is quite possibly the record that will never be broken.

To me, these nimrods are like loud cell phone talkers in crowded public — I am sure the call is vastly important to you but can you please shut the hell up?

February 14, 2008 @ 1:09 am | Comment

Glad to see that he is taking a stand. China said it would deal with Darfur and it hasn’t properly – just paid lip-service to the problem.

Spielberg has rightly called China out on its failings. I don’t support a boycott by athletes, but it’s right to show the country up for its failings. After all the Olympics is being used for propaganda effect by Beijing, so it can hardly complain if other parties link it negatively to politics.

February 14, 2008 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Hey, if Beijing can boycott the 1980 olympics for its own ends, then they have no right to complain about being boycotted.

It is impossible to say if Spielberg made a moral or business decision, but after the flop of the last three star wars movies he hasn’t much to go on and having the genocide olympics around his neck doesn’t help.

Now Beijing will be left to use CCTV producers to finish the job, so that if the Olympics do happen the whole world can experience the CCTV CNY celebration two times in two weeks. Hooray!

When it comes to oil prices, this is a form of 5th column warfare. American and European consumers can weather high oil prices much more than can Chinese consumers or the Chinese gov’t.

It is Beijing’s own fault for pushing growth at all costs.

February 14, 2008 @ 5:02 am | Comment

Funny, I always thought the Star Wars movies were made by George Lukas

February 14, 2008 @ 9:23 am | Comment

Speilberg just lost my respect for him..

Even though it is bad that people are dying there.. it is not the responsibility of China to control them like what other countries are trying to do..

How can he relate to this when the fact is he already agreed in doing the ceremonies first..

Goes to show how less of a man he is by not sticking to his word..

I definitely agree that darfur is bad what the F*** is its relationship to the Olympics..
Kindly educate me.. is it not for freindly games between countries? is it not for good ties between countries? WTF does this have to do with freakin politics?

What he is doing is just fanning the flames for International unrest..

I say to chinese people FORGET about him.. find your own famous celebrity to do the planning I would think people with as grand a mindset as the ones who built the Great wall has better ideas than this sorry for an excuse as a man..

February 14, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Comment

The Games have been politicized beyond all belief by China. It is the paramount moment of “legitimation” for the CCP, following Hong Kong, Macao, and the WTO. What they want is to show how “normal” China is and avoid “politicization,” which is, according to their definition, any attempt to bring to light the facts that the Olympics have not in fact made the CHinese government a normal government.
So many years ago, people thought that this would be a driving force for change, but instead it has been a driving force for ever greater suppression as the government aims to pull off a beautiful and completely “clean” Olympics that will project the false image that it wishes to project to its people and the world.
I don’t urge people to boycott the Olympics; I would rather urge people to go to China and talk honestly with people about the situation there. Don’t just say “wow, Beijing looks so modern- what great Games!” Also say, “did Hu Jia really need to be locked up for this?”

February 14, 2008 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

Robert, calm down, please. Speilberg may be a celebrity in the US. He is not well known in China, trust me. Even if he was, I just don’t think many people there would pay much attention to him.

For some people, if it is not about Darfur, it will be something else.

February 14, 2008 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

First off, richard… I don’t know what’s gotten into you the last few months, but you’re positively becoming a moderate old China hand right in front of my very eyes. I for one continue to appreciate it.

The Olympics were politicized from 1936-1984. First by Nazi involvement, and later due to the Cold War.

(And are people really surprised by the Chinese boycott of the 1980 Olympics? I’m no longer surprised with the depth of ignorance displayed by some when it comes to Chinese history… but how can you folks not remember the *American*-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?)

From 1988-2004, the Olympics were able to largely regain their non-political flavor, and I think they’ll be remembered as the golden age of Olympics competition.

2008 has now, unavoidably, become politicized again. I’m not going to point fingers at specific Western governments, but I will just state that China in its form represents an entity that some Western “forces” see as an enemy. To them, China is a terrifying model: an increasingly powerful, successful country in which a non-democratic, authoritarian government remains popular with the vast majority of her citizens.

In their point of view, China’s influence goes beyond its borders; it’s development and growth is really an ideology in and of itself. And this ideology is now being exported throughout Asia, to Africa, and likely Latin America over the next decade.

The Chinese response to this view of the world is: let’s get rid of the confrontational politics of the 20th century. Let’s compete fairly on the world stage; if Western liberal values are more attractive to the developing world, we’ll let it be. But if it turns out that “Chinese” authoritarian, development-focused values are more attractive… well, let us be.

The overwhelming response from the other corner? “Screw you.” These folks are coming after today’s China with a vengeance; they see themselves already engaged in a cold political war with China, and the Olympics are just the first battle.

If that’s the world they want to build, I don’t see that China has any alternative but to eventually accommodate them. If they’re going to accuse China of supporting the Sudanese government, then let’s not play around. Let’s put Chinese main battle tanks, fighters, and artillery on the ground in Sudan. Let’s help the Sudanese government end this rebellion once and for all, by waving a convincing victory against their political opponents. (Sudan’s scorched earth policy is borne of desperation, not racism. Help them win the war, and the claims of genocide will go away.)

As far as the Olympics go… just bought my hospitality package today. Opening ceremonies, here I come.

February 14, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

Did you know that the original Marxist definition of ideology is a shroud which masks a more fundamental truth?
In that sense, CCT, I agree with you that “it’s development and growth is really an ideology,” except for the apostrophe in “its,” of course.

February 14, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Comment

@cct

of course we remember the us boycott of moscow. just surprised the ccp joined in and now seeks to stop the politicization of the games without referring to the moscow games.

the reason why developed nation govts should be (note the use of the word should) interested in democracy is because it denotes a level of transparency and commitment to respecting the rights of their citizens and also a commitment to the values of the un charter which china, like many other authoritarian govts, has signed up to. if china is not interested in democracy, it has no business being in the un.

rather than murdering the population of sudan, wouldn’t it be better if we put un forces on the ground in numbers that matter and tried to bring in a govt that doesn’t believe genocide is the answer to its problems?

@fatbrick

i am not saying that we can instantly move from fossil fuels. however, we should place greater emphasis on finding technologies which will enable us to move away and co-operate on that, rather than co-operating on finding a way to move oil more efficiently around the globe. as usual, all govts have their priorities the wrong way round.

February 14, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

Si,

“the reason why developed nation govts should be (note the use of the word should) interested in democracy is because it denotes a level of transparency and commitment to respecting the rights of their citizens and also a commitment to the values of the un charter which china, like many other authoritarian govts, has signed up to. if china is not interested in democracy, it has no business being in the un.”

Look at the word “their” citizens.

Who told you that being a member of the UN requires to sign up to a political system called “democracy”? Check the history book but perhaps not the one(s) you are using.

February 14, 2008 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

please find below the un universal declaration of human rights, to which china is a signatory. you may find article 21 to be of particular interest.

http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

February 14, 2008 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

Robert

Beijing linked the Olympics to politics years ago and has done since. It has used it to say things like “hey, look – China so cool”, whilst also trying to assert its control over Taiwan (trying to class it as a domestic leg of the torch run and then insisting the Taiwanese violate their own laws to take flags off anyone on the route).

If Beijing had never wanted politics to get mixed up in the Olympics it shouldn’t have milked it for propaganda in the first place. Now it has, it has no credible reason to complain about people using it to protest on things they care about involving China.

February 14, 2008 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

The UN requires a member country to be a democracy. Si, you are fooling no one. I think you are just absolutely ignorant.

February 15, 2008 @ 12:39 am | Comment

“The UN requires a member country to be a democracy. Si, you are fooling no one. I think you are just absolutely ignorant.”

yawn, sigh.

that is not what i said z and if you think i did you can’t speak english well enough to be commenting here or are being disingeneous and distorting what i wrote.

February 15, 2008 @ 1:02 am | Comment

Si,

Frankly, if and when the United Nations becomes the organization you believe it should be: a political/military organization which invades and replaces governments which do not conform to Western standard of government…

… then I absolutely hope half of the nations of this planet will rise up in arms, and destroy the no-longer United Nations, as well as any member countries that threaten this type of military action. It’s but a disguised return to imperialism, and the developing nations won’t stand by and allow that to happen again.

February 15, 2008 @ 1:16 am | Comment

Raj,

How old are you? You make some incredibly infantile statements. (It has used it to say things like “hey, look – China so cool”.)

As I said already above, the Olympics were absolutely political for much of the 20th century. The People’s Republic of China itself was dominated by political considerations top to bottom for much of the 20th century, and this definitely applies to the 1980 Olympics.

China in the year 2008 is unbelievably changed from the China of 1980.

And there was hope amongst many that mankind had managed to finally move past the Cold War era. That the 21st century would see a new era of international mutual acceptance and cooperation, and an end to wars based on -ism: imperialism, fascism, communism, capitalism.

But first in the “Global War on Terror”, and now in this renewed “Global War on Non-democracy”… I think it’s obvious that hope won’t happen. There will again be war.

February 15, 2008 @ 1:25 am | Comment

Si, you spent some of your time in China, so maybe you understand some Chinse. I am sure my English is not as good as yours. How about for two of us to engage in Chinese.

February 15, 2008 @ 2:59 am | Comment

CCT

You make some incredibly infantile statements.

How is that infantile? Because I quickly described China’s attempt to show itself off in a good way? Don’t be so silly.

China in the year 2008 is unbelievably changed from the China of 1980.

So what? Spielberg wasn’t saying China hasn’t changed – he was complaining it is failing its responsibilities as a member of the UNSC and a member of the global community with the influence to do more to stop the Darfur crisis.

There will again be war.

And I would suggest one of the best candidates for that would be a war of Chinese imperialism in invading Taiwan.

February 15, 2008 @ 4:06 am | Comment

While I agree with CCT that China has changed, once again I let Raj act as my spokesman. China has changed from a Stalinist state to a fascist one in 20 years where a one-party dictatorship employs a market economy and controls a large number of state corporations.
To compare this prestigious awarding of a fascist regime to that of a previous one is unfair; the 1936 games in Berlin was awarded before Hitler came to power and knew what the future would hold. The IOC has no such excuse this time. But then this is hardly different from the Mexican games of 1968 where students were killed (fancy that) by the government and before their blood had dried on the streets. Four years later in Munich the IOC insisted that the Games must go on despite the slaughter of Israeli athletes and coaches; I believe the IOC has continued to refuse to recognise what had happened, so its willful blindness, moral and otherwise, hasn’t changed with China.
Spielberg gave his excuse for deciding, at this late stage, not to act as the regime’s Riefenstahl due to its involvement in Darfur which I find laughable when his own government is involved directly in so many other crimes. Funny how he saw no moral qualm about legitimising a regime that aims missiles at Taiwan to blackmail it from seeking the same self-determination the Chinese themselves had cried out for throughout much of the 20th century, occupies Tibet (funny how Spielberg didn’t recognise a current anschluss), ignores all rule of law to steal land from peasants while making their air unbreathable and water undrinkable, throws the elderly out of their houses in this city to have them demolished for skyscrapers and stadia and prevent my students from simply logging into Wikipedia or the BBC news to find out what the hell’s going on.
Now to see if the British Olympic Committee gives its athletes masks and contracts forbidding them to make rude comments…

February 15, 2008 @ 4:58 am | Comment

It’s 5am, so forgive the sloppiness in tenses and grammar in the previous post. As I say, I tend to leave others to comment for me, but this is an issue that so riles me. I had to practice considerable self-restraint in not letting off another self-righteous harangue. The Guardian had a great op-ed stating that removing politics from the Olympics is impossible- the Olympics itself is all politics, from the regime’s self-promotion, to the flags, to the corporate sponsorship, and the Chinese are being disingenuous yet again by claiming otherwise. When I read about the kow-towing going on to appease the Chinese, I can’t help but think of that photo of the British team offering Hitler the Olympic salute.

February 15, 2008 @ 5:05 am | Comment

Raj,

I misread the substance of your comments. I thought you were backing the claims of Si and others that the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics in itself justified a boycott of the 2008 Olympics. I see now that’s not what you mean.

So what? Spielberg wasn’t saying China hasn’t changed – he was complaining it is failing its responsibilities as a member of the UNSC and a member of the global community with the influence to do more to stop the Darfur crisis.

Many Chinese netizens have pointed out that it’s interesting Spielberg isn’t so concerned by American actions in Iraq (or inaction in Darfur) that he can’t continue to do his work in the US.

But anyways. Spielberg is a talented director, not an oracle for international affairs. He’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t really care what it is. When’s the last time George Bush looked to Feng Xiaogang for guidance on American foreign policy…?

If he doesn’t want to participate in the opening ceremony, don’t participate. He won’t be missed. He said in his press release he still hopes to attend Beijing in his private capacity; I say… don’t bother. Sell your seats on eBay, and spend the proceeds on saving Darfur. Speaking only for myself here, he’s not welcome in my country.

February 15, 2008 @ 5:22 am | Comment

Kejr,

I believe I read your comment on the Guardian comment board actually.

As I said above, I don’t really care about Spielberg’s opinion on these issues… and really, you’re no Spielberg. Quite frankly, your opinion on Chinese politics and international affairs is as irrelevant as any other barely coherent foreign language teacher with little other accomplishment in life. In other words, not very relevant at all.

Does anyone in the UK care how Chinese language teachers visiting on a temporary visa feel towards British foreign policy? Doubtful.

February 15, 2008 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Many Chinese netizens have pointed out that it’s interesting Spielberg isn’t so concerned by American actions in Iraq (or inaction in Darfur) that he can’t continue to do his work in the US.

America has been placing whatever pressure it can on Sudan – China has the ability to do a lot more. Besides, he is an American citizen – refusing to work in his own country would be a bit extreme. He can do a lot more by expressing his views inside. After all, the US does have a free media – Spielberg wouldn’t even be offered an interview with a big Chinese media outlet to express his views.

I’m sure lots of Chinese netizens have been whinging because they always default to “you don’t complain about country X doing Y” arguments. Plus the moderators are out in force deleting/refusing to post messages as usual so any views will mostly be one-sided.

When’s the last time George Bush looked to Feng Xiaogang for guidance on American foreign policy…?

When was the last time Feng Xiaogang was asked to work on a big American sporting project akin the Olympics?

February 15, 2008 @ 6:09 am | Comment

Raj
This Spielberg guy has been supporting the Iraq war, a war in which his tax dollars have assisted in killings of many iraqis. His stance in Iraw war and “human rights issue” in Sudan just make him laughable. He may choose to be against Chinese presence in Sudan, but this does not put him on moral high ground.

February 15, 2008 @ 6:49 am | Comment

Now there is another reason to dislike Spielberg. He made me lose a bit of fortune. I should dump his company’s share yesterday right after his announcement.

Anyway, like it or not, China had limited leverage on Darfur and had already used it. A second thought, actually the leverage is on the other side. In today world, those who sit on tons of resources are in demand. Although the PR of China is not so successful, they did their jobs. The bias is not something China can change now, when the other rich Asian countries have little success. The core interest of China is much more important.

February 15, 2008 @ 7:15 am | Comment

Somehow I’ve got the feeling most here probably don’t know much about Sudan (other than it’s an African nation), but it doesn’t stop you from talking as if you know what’s going on there.

The story sold by NYT and a few other outfits to the public in the West, is that there is a genocide waged by “Arabs” against “Africans” (Both sides look equally black, BTW). Most Islamic outfits call the storyline fabricated by “Israeli lobby.” Most African nations, as far as I can tell, side a lot more with China on this than Nicholas Kristof or Mia Fallow. Neither the AU, nor any African nations, call the war in Darfur a genocide, or advocate military intervention outside of peacekeeping. Funny that they are the real Africans.

There are massive human sufferings in Sudan, without a doubt, started with drought & overpopulation that eventually turned humans into savages. All sides have committed some horrendous crimes against other human beings.

The solution has to start with building the economy, engaging trade, & creating jobs.

BTW, to me Spielberg is a great director whose films are always must-see.

February 15, 2008 @ 7:49 am | Comment

@JXie,

And who’re the forces that have been attacking African Union peacekeepers, accounting for the death of tens of foreign peacekeepers last year? It’s the rebels, not the Sudanese government! It’s amazing how disconnected from the real-world these activists are.

The Sudanese government is being railroaded. What is essentially a development problem (as you said) leading to a devastating civil war and humanitarian disaster has been instead cast as genocide. And now the new solution proposed by those in the West…? Sanctions that will destroy the fledgling Sudanese economy.

This is exactly why I said above this is a battle between ideology. Economics before political development (China itself), or political development before economics (Afghanistan, anyone?). China should compromise on practical matters (like an arms embargo), but should absolutely not give in on the big picture view of how to help Sudan become a functioning state.

February 15, 2008 @ 8:55 am | Comment

“China should compromise on practical matters (like an arms embargo), but…”

There are no ‘buts’, Chinese arms sales are the whole ballgame. China’s ‘who you shoot, how many you shoot, where you shoot, leave it up to you, not our business, just get us the oil’ attitude is the issue here.

The bottom line is this: the Chinese government don’t give a damn about the suffering caused by the weapons they sell to the Sudanese. Did Hu Jintao bother to take a look at Darfur on his recent trip to Africa to express regret for the suffering his policies have caused? Of course not, because our good buddy China doesn’t ‘meddle in the internal affairs of other countries.’

A million relocated, dispossessed, beaten, or butchered. That’s some legacy of non-interference.

It is absolutely right for high-profile individuals like Spielberg to use their status to bring attention to Darfur and other issues. And if that can be achieved most effectively via the Olympic platform, so be it.

February 15, 2008 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

Putatively, Steven Spielberg�s withdrawal from the Chinese Olympics Organizing Committee as an artistic consultant stems from China�s reluctance �to do more� against the civil war in Darfur, the Sudan. The truth is that this second-rate American director has been overshadowed by the legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who heads the production of the opening and closing ceremonies. Zhang Yimou�s eye for colour and acrobatics and his inimitable grasp of story-telling spook the bearded American. So the little American took his small marbles and went home.

More interestingly, this episode has underscored China�s position as the pre-eminent global power. The West is so weak militarily and economically that it has to solicit the People�s Republic�s assistance in order to quell the civil war in Darfur.

Mao was right; China has stood up. Qi lai!

February 15, 2008 @ 1:23 pm | Comment

@Stuart,
You don’t know shit about the supposed arms sold by China to Sudan. I spent some time doing research into this today, and the extent of the “evidence” of any such trade comes down to:

– hundreds of “military” trucks exported to Sudan in 2005,
– A-5 fighters sold in 2003, before this conflict even began,
– visual observation of Chinese-made small arms in Darfur.

Chinese-made small arms are everywhere in the developing world because of its relative low cost, just as American-made weapons are found in just about every niche of the corner as well. Might as well try to stop the export of Chinese knives.

Let’s make it easier for you. Why don’t you give us a detailed list of what arms you believe China is currently selling to Sudan, and should immediately stop.

Apparently you believe Spielberg has succeeded by bringing attention to this issue. Maybe next time he should pull his pants off and take a shit on the White House lawn in the name of Sudan; that should be worth a few headlines, too.

February 15, 2008 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

And who’re the forces that have been attacking African Union peacekeepers, accounting for the death of tens of foreign peacekeepers last year? It’s the rebels, not the Sudanese government! It’s amazing how disconnected from the real-world these activists are.

Who is it that murders the civilians and drives them out of their homes? The government-backed militia. Although the rebels are causing trouble too, it is the government-backed milita that caused this trouble in the first place through their ethnically-targetted attacks.

It is also the Sudanese government who is refusing to let a decent peacekeeping mission get under way – for months it has delayed and back-tracked. Why would it do that if it really wanted UN help?

wk

His stance in Iraw war and “human rights issue” in Sudan just make him laughable.

Ask the marsh Arabs if they think the invasion of Iraq was incompatible with human rights.

I don’t agree that anyone who supported the war cannot speak out on human rights issues. He has never said it was good to kill Iraqis/civilians. It’s a daft attitude to take.

February 15, 2008 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

CCT (P) wrote:
“You don’t know shit.”

While we’re in the business of raising the level of debate, let me say that I’ve always preferred the word ‘excrement’.

And this gem of denial:

“Why don’t you give us a detailed list of what arms you believe China is currently selling to Sudan”

Nobody has access to the full inventory of sold weapons, such is China’s skill at muddying the waters with imaginative documentation.

CCT, you’re like the kid who turns to the desk mate who’s just informed him that today is Friday and says, “Where did you hear that? Prove it!”

February 15, 2008 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

“Si, you spent some of your time in China, so maybe you understand some Chinse. I am sure my English is not as good as yours. How about for two of us to engage in Chinese.”

um no, z, this is an english language blog. you chose to come here and shoot your mouth off. if you can’t debate in english, don’t debate. it is typical of people like you that you don’t explain why you felt your intepretation of my words was valid. i think it is because you know you distorted my words to fit your argument.

“Frankly, if and when the United Nations becomes the organization you believe it should be: a political/military organization which invades and replaces governments which do not conform to Western standard of government…”

the point is, it isn’t a western standard of government, but a worldwide standard of govt as laid down by the un. military intervention into conflict has been a part and parcel of the un since its foundation. as long as military intervention has the backing of the un i support it.

i note you haven’t bothered to refute my intepretation of the un declaration of rights, nor supplied any evidence to back up your assertion that china is not selling weapons to sudan. perhaps you’d like to tell us where you got your information?

on related news here’s bush describing sudan as a genocide

http://tinyurl.com/2anf45

which means under the genocide convention (http://tinyurl.com/9byel) that the us must act. not that bush would be interested in doing that.

February 15, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

@stuart

You should know that every statement here has to be backed up by 1993 FBI statistics. And while you are at it, you also should provide evidence that you’ve visited every major city in Greater China and speak at least three different Chinese dialects. Otherwise you are just a “Western” propagandist blowing anecdotes out of proportion.
And never forget: CCT(V) might not know everything, but he knows everything better!

February 15, 2008 @ 4:45 pm | Comment

@mor

No, really, it is Friday. I just know it is.

February 15, 2008 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

Stuart, I say this with all the love in the world, you are not too bright, which I am afraid is an understatement.

You claimed that “Chinese arms sales are the whole ballgame.” Then CCT did his research, reported back what he’d gathered, and asked you for proof, which obviously he couldn’t find. Mind you if there were arm sales, somebody on the ground would likely have seen it.

Then you weaseled out with some blah about nobody knowing it.

Let me get this straight: so nobody knows there are Chinese arms sales to Sudan in direct violation of the 2005 UN arms embargo. But somehow you know, because they are the whole ballgame. I take it that people in Stuartville don’t observe facts, but rather create facts through imagination? Here is the video for you:

http://tinyurl.com/vegwr

February 15, 2008 @ 11:53 pm | Comment

@Stuart,

I think JXie was a little over-kind in his assessment of you.

But let me just repeat myself here and say… why don’t you give us a list of what you believe China is selling to Sudan…. I don’t need a complete inventory, just your version of it would be more than sufficient. My only request is that you find a reference more enlightened, and convincing, than your own shit-hole.

February 16, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Comment

@Si,

as long as military intervention has the backing of the un i support it.

And on this I agree. Now… is there any military action “backed” by the UN that China doesn’t support? Of course not, especially since China has a veto-role in deciding what action the UN backs.

i note you haven’t bothered to refute my intepretation of the un declaration of rights,
I personally didn’t think your unintelligible rambling on the issue was worth responding to. But if you insist:

Q: Who are the signatories of the Declaration?

A: Since the Declaration is not legally binding technically, there are no signatories to the Declaration. Instead, the Declaration was ratified through a proclamation by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948 with a count of 48 votes to none with only 8 abstentions. This was considered a triumph as the vote unified very diverse, even conflicting political regimes.

So… help me understand this again. When did China become a “signatory” to this non-binding delaration?

nor supplied any evidence to back up your assertion that china is not selling weapons to sudan.
I’ll be happy to provide this evidence as soon as you prove you’ve stopped beating your wife.

More seriously, take a look at the Amnesty International reports on Chinese arms exports to Sudan. Look past their top-line numbers, and look for their accounting of actual “arms” trade.

February 16, 2008 @ 12:14 am | Comment

“The truth is that this second-rate American director has been overshadowed by the legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou,”

Then why did Beijing hire Spielberg in the first place? Because all Zhang Yimou can do is dress people up in gaudy costumes.

As for China’s contribution to peace in Sudan, the only time PLA troops leave the Sinopec oil fields is to help the Sudanese army kill black Africans.

China only stood up to let a fart out.

February 16, 2008 @ 12:32 am | Comment

CCT, don’t make comments like “you don’t know shit”. Rude posts are subject to deletion.

The same applies to anyone else.

February 16, 2008 @ 1:50 am | Comment

Richard, you are not saying the US is as bad as China? The US is 100 times worse than China. 🙂

February 16, 2008 @ 2:50 am | Comment

Well, Pffefer, I’m convinced!

February 16, 2008 @ 3:09 am | Comment

Richard, I see you are more eager to show everyone how much you despise China and that you are no on the CCP payroll than be fair. Yeah I don’t support a boycott. But God I tell you I hate the Chinese in guts!!! That’s the perfect disclaimer. I am such an impartial human being. Yeah right!

Hypocrisy knows no bound. When Richard and some of you are condemning China’s “pact with the devil” etc., you shamelessly and conveniently ignored the bigger devil/offender and the biggest hypocrite of today, the United States of America. How many people got killed in Darfur? How many people got killed in Iraq? How come nobody is asking the US to be forever banned from hosting the Olympic Games? How come Britain, the lap poodle of the US was awarded the London Games? Where is the outrage?

http://www.tomveatch.com/dictatorships.html

http://thirdworldtraveler.com/US_ThirdWorld/dictators.html

February 16, 2008 @ 3:12 am | Comment

How come Britain, the lap poodle of the US was awarded the London Games? Where is the outrage?

Maybe because we haven’t been protecting a country carrying out genocide by proxy?

February 16, 2008 @ 3:19 am | Comment

Yet you invaded a sovereign nation, directly and indirectly caused what amounts to a genocide? You tell me which is worse!

February 16, 2008 @ 3:23 am | Comment

“nor supplied any evidence to back up your assertion that china is not selling weapons to sudan.
I’ll be happy to provide this evidence as soon as you prove you’ve stopped beating your wife.”

Way to go, CCT(V), you are almost as good as ferin(s). Never answer any questions, attack your opponent’s family instead. Great way of making your point that is.

February 16, 2008 @ 5:15 am | Comment

@mor,

LOL. Perhaps your English isn’t up to par… but my retort above is a standard rendering of what’s known as proving a negative.

In other words, how could I satisfactorily prove to anyone that China is *not* exporting arms to Sudan? Should I find and upload cargo manifests for every box sent to Sudan, and prove that none of them contained arms? Should I personally account for the current position of every weapon produced by Chinese factories over the past 10 years, and prove that none of them are in Sudan?

The burden of proof has to be on the shoulders of those who claim this arms trade is currently occurring and implicated in the genocide in Darfur. And, in an attempt to under this proof, I looked into Amnesty International’s reports on the issue.

All that I’ve found so far were references to cargo trucks, Fanfan fighters, and training simulators sold before the conflict even began. Oh, and observation of Chinese-made small arms in the hands of government forces. (Because, you know, China can prevent AK47s from being available in Sudan by implementing an embargo.)

The implications of this are obvious: the arms trade is a non-factor in what’s happening in Darfur.

February 16, 2008 @ 5:24 am | Comment

From China Lawyer blog

“Today�s China Daily has an article that helps explain this dispassionate, greedy, and what seems to me seemingly inhumane way that Chinese interact with the world. The front page article in this government run newspaper notes that US movie producer and director Stephen Spielberg has withdrawn from his role as an adviser to the PRC government for the Olympics because China continues to make money in Darfur, while the rest of the world protests this humanitarian crisis. Spielberg thinks that what they are doing is wrong.

The article provides an explanation, written from the perspective of China�s leaders, about how the country balances its goal of development and enriching itself versus its moral responsibilities to deal with a humanitarian crisis. It reads:

�Western exploitation of the Olympics to pressure China [on the Darfur issue] immediately provoked much disgust among ordinary Chinese. In ordinary Chinese eyes, it is totally ridiculous to place the Darfur issue, so many thousands of kilometers away, on China�s shoulders.�

The point the article seems to make is that while US and European firms, like Nike, are forced daily to deal with a constant barrage of criticism generated by the free press in their own countries, any criticism directed at China for equally or more egregious government sponsored actions, and on a much larger scale, is somehow wrong. The reference to �ordinary Chinese� is weird, since the Chinese press is too shackled to criticize their own government, and the only people who would notice and not get arrested for discussing it would be westerners and foreign newspapers.

If there is any doubt about whether China is anywhere near being accepted into a world community as an equal member, I believe that here is further evidence that that day is a long time coming.”

February 16, 2008 @ 5:25 am | Comment

@Pffefer

“Richard, I see you are more eager to show everyone how much you despise China and that you are no on the CCP payroll than be fair. Yeah I don’t support a boycott. But God I tell you I hate the Chinese in guts!!! That’s the perfect disclaimer. I am such an impartial human being. Yeah right!”

Dear Pffefer,

We already know that Richard is the Anti-Christ. He is the Unholy Trinity of “CCP Shill”, “(Chinese/American) Nationalist” and “Western Anti-China Propagandist”. What else do you want to prove? That we are all part of an Anti-China conspiracy organized by the “Western Imperialist’s Club”?

February 16, 2008 @ 5:34 am | Comment

Nah, mor, I don’t, I just think some of you are over-paid and bored.

February 16, 2008 @ 5:39 am | Comment

Ecodelta, I think the point is: When will this blatant hypocrisy end?

February 16, 2008 @ 5:42 am | Comment

Which hypocrisy my dear Pffefer?

February 16, 2008 @ 5:48 am | Comment

Can’t you see it? I have yet to see one person wanting to boycott the London Olympics or asking the IOC to strip the US of its eligibility to be a host country for future games.

February 16, 2008 @ 5:56 am | Comment

Yes. I am sure that some people would be for a boycott London or US Olympics for whatever crimes they would both countries be accused

That does not invalidate the discussion about China. And is about China what is being here discussed.

The crimes of others do not invalidate your own crimes.nor make your responsibility go away.

On the other hand. Be it right or not a boycott against China olympic games, the way the Chinese government publicly handles the issue shows still a lacking crisis management.

February 16, 2008 @ 6:10 am | Comment

The crimes of others do not invalidate your own crimes.

Indeed. “tu quoque” is not a defence.

February 16, 2008 @ 6:20 am | Comment

Not a defense, but it does point out the sheer hypocrisy and nobody should be subject to such. Plus, the crime that the US and its lap poodle UK are committing right now far dwarf China’s. The way I see it, if you want to point fingers at the Chinese you’d better point your middle finger at the US/UK. Of course, there are so many people out there who don’t mind to be called hypocrite.

February 16, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Comment

China doesn’t need a “defense” on the Sudan issue. Spielberg doesn’t like Chinese foreign policy, so he’s staying away. Fine, and anyone else who feels similarly should join him.

There are some who’re pointing out US/UK “crimes” because they want to take the discussion further, and question Spielberg’s self-righteousness. Is he upset about human right violations by the United States and the UK, and is he upset enough to terminate his work in these two countries? So, the question there is about his personal moral compass.

On the one hand, I think the question is valid. Why did Spielberg decide Darfur is worthy of boycott, but Iraq is not?

On the other hand… I don’t really care about Spielberg’s moral compass. He should just get back in the studio and make something that entertains me, rather than trying to solve the world’s problems with his less than perfect grasp of international affairs.

February 16, 2008 @ 6:47 am | Comment

Pfeffer you are repeating yourself.

Nice to chat to you anyway.

Time for me to go. Good night and sweet olympic dreams to all 😉

February 16, 2008 @ 7:04 am | Comment

Look, between your ears there is grey matter. If you intend to use it and really ponder the Sudan topic, you can get the answers to a lot of questions by reading the following 2 pieces:

The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency by Professor Mamdani (a real African)
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n05/mamd01_.html

and his NPR interview:
http://tinyurl.com/38qhlg

You can even research more by going through his referenced material, and see how Africans really feel. There is not “the rest of the world” and China — there is actually a few news outfits in the West and the sheep who believe them, and the rest of the world.

February 16, 2008 @ 7:47 am | Comment

Pfeffer, where in the world are you coming from. I am against a boycott. I acknowledge that the US has its own skeleton in its own closets, and this blog is extremely critical of both governments. Your comments display a staggering ignorance.

February 16, 2008 @ 10:07 am | Comment

Richard,

You remember BXBQ a while back? Pffefer’s his wing man. I’ve seen them working in tandem elsewhere. Just a heads up.

February 16, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Comment

CCT wrote:
“My only request is that you find a reference more enlightened, and convincing, than your own shit-hole.”

Your default attack mode is reference enough.

It is interesting, though, that you should believe there are no Chinese-made weapons in Sudan. Your sources are inadequate, I suspect.

February 16, 2008 @ 10:59 am | Comment

Thanks for the tip, Stuart. I was wondering what his game was; now we know.

CCT, I appreciate your commenting but please watch the language, ok? And there are Chinese-made weapons and helicopters in Sudan. That is a matter of fact, not conjecture.

February 16, 2008 @ 11:11 am | Comment

“There are some who’re pointing out US/UK “crimes” because they want to take the discussion further…”

No, that’s not the reason.

“Why did Spielberg decide Darfur is worthy of boycott, but Iraq is not?”

Newsflash: The Olympics are being held in Beijing.

February 16, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Comment

This article from spiked-online is pretty good.

“In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, a new sport has emerged: Yellow Peril-mongering. Western politicians, commentators and even athletes (not previously known for their skills in political oration, or in any other kind of oration) have been competing to see who can express the shrillest and most spine-tingling fears about the Chinese beast looming on the Eastern horizon. The Beijing Olympics have been turned into an all-purpose platform for moral posturing about China’s pollution levels, industrial arrogance, meddling in Africa, lack of free speech, and human rights record.

spiked has no illusions about the Chinese regime. We are passionate defenders of democracy and liberty, which remain anathematic words to the Communist Party of China. Yet nor are we remotely interested in signing up to the current Orientalist Olympics, where writers, actors and activists are using the premise of Beijing 2008 to spread some snooty and frequently irrational fears about the Chinese. … ”

more at
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/4506

February 16, 2008 @ 1:55 pm | Comment

@richard,

Christ, don’t disappoint me now by reading what I wrote with such little care. I don’t doubt for a second there are Chinese arms in Darfur. Do you doubt for a second that there is American-made military gear in Darfur as well? A few 1911 floating around, for example?

Stuart doesn’t have a leg to stand on here, and he’s not intellectually honest enough to admit it. There most certainly are Chinese small arms in Darfur, but they are probably remnants of sales *before* 2006, and/or smuggled in by arms traders which can buy Chinese small arms on the open market throughout the developing world.

As far as anything heavier goes.. what are we talking about specifically?! What is China accused of exporting? I’ve already given a laundry list of everything I’m aware of. Trucks, a few fighters sold in 2003, and… that’s it!

February 16, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

@ CCT
“Speaking only for myself here, he’s not welcome in my country.”

That speaks volumes. Having made this comment you have effectively disenfranchised yourself from passing judgement on the intellectual honesty of others. Grow up.

February 16, 2008 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

cct, I am not sure whether there have been arms sales to Sudan since 2003, but there is no denying China’s contribution. I don’t say China can be blamed for the carnage, but we can’t deny they are a factor and they could do more to help stop it:

The helicopter that blew up Osman’s village, and the AK-47s that were used to slaughter his friends, were provided and paid for by China. Why? One word: oil. Since 1993, China has been scouring the earth for the few fossil fuels not seized and burned by Europe and America, and it found the friendliest pool of petrol in Sudan. They have ploughed $10bn of capital investment into Sudan’s oilfields, and they snaffle 60 per cent of Sudan’s petrol: more than 400,000 barrels a day.

What does Sudan get in return? Enough cash to pay for the slaughter – but that’s only for starters. Since 1996, China has been Sudan’s main supplier of weapons. On the international stage, China covers Sudan’s back. Since the genocide began, the Chinese have been systematically obstructing any attempts at the UN to protect Darfur’s civilians. China’s special envoy, Liu Guijin, visited Darfur and declared, “I didn’t see a desperate scenario of people dying of hunger.” No, he said – he simply saw people “grateful” for China’s “contribution”.

There is another side to this argument, i.e., that China is being used as a whipping boy because the Western powers don’t want to do more themselves to help the victims of the genocide; it’s convenient to lay all the blame at China’s feet. I am thinking about a post on this topic soon to explore whether there’s any substance to this argument. Not taking sides yet, but I always get suspicious nowadays when one party is singled out as exclusively evil.

February 17, 2008 @ 11:09 am | Comment

Richard said:
” Not taking sides yet, but I always get suspicious nowadays when one party is singled out as exclusively evil.”

As usual, when trying to hide your true feelings, as the Chinese would say, you keep your feet firmly planted in two boats.

Isn’t it interesting that it’s only the white Western countries pressing China on Darfur. Which African countries are criticizing China? Is this a white vs Chinese thing? Hmmm.

Isn’t it interesting that Japan buys more oil from Sudan than China yet no pressure is put on it by Western countries. Hmmm.

Isn’t it interesting that the French and other white countries, on one hand, are helping Chad, which has the world largest untapped uranium deposits, while the US and the UK, on the other hand, are helping rebels in Darfur which has large oil and gas deposits.
Hmmm.

Isn’t it interesting that the US (Clinton) and France did nothing to stop a real genocide in Rwanda yet are making noise about a fake, “Hollywood” manufactured one in Darfur. Oh, Rwanda has no oil and gas.

Chinese are not fighting in Darfur, Rwanda, the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Chad, Algeria, Somalia, etc. It is Africans fighting Africans! Where are all the bleeding hearts calling for the Africans being kicked out of the Olympics?

It is unfair to single out China as responsible for the problems in the Sudan but then, again, fairness has no place in world affairs.

The dripping hypocrisy for Africans in Darfur is nauseating.

February 17, 2008 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

What the hell is a “white country”? Are we going to divide the world’s nations by colors now? Should Obama win the presidency in the USA, would they still be a white country or what?

February 18, 2008 @ 5:48 pm | Comment

U.S. lawmakers and several entertainers using the Beijing olympics to pressure China to help bring an end to the Darfur crisis is proof of America’s hypocrisy towards the issue of human rights.

Let’s take a look at Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a country guilty of widespread human rights abuse. However, this massive human rights violator allows privileged U.S. access to its oil and serves U.S. (oil company) interests well. The United States therefore not only remains silent on Saudi human rights violations, it maintains thousands of military personnel in Saudi Arabia and actively supports and protects the regime.

Uncle Sam is also the largest supplier of arms to Saudi.

If USA the most richest and powerful country in the world refuses to use its influence to do anything about the massive human rights violations happening in its Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, then why should these people expect China to do the same for Darfur?

February 18, 2008 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

Interesting points, but it seems to me that there is one flaw in the comparison of the US and China. Let’s say you believe that everything the American government and Bush does is totally wrong and cruel (I don’t). Even if that were true, the fact remains that inside of America, there is strong and healthy debate on America’s role in the world, and its effect on human rights. You have many citizens protesting against the war, and even some crazy city councils calling for Bush’s impeachment.

Is there a similar situation in China? Sadly, I don’t believe so. There are no large demonstrations against a government or leader seen as being in the wrong; there no cities voting to impeach Hu Jintao; there is no mass public discourse on the effect China’s actions are having in other countries. Most disturbingly, many Chinese people seem to have the same mentality as the government, believing that China’s progress and growth are more important than a few dead Africans (check out John Kennedy’s post on this).

Individually, Chinese people are some of the greatest, most open-minded people I’ve met. However, the saying about a person being smart, and people being stupid, seems especially applicable in China, especially when the whole concept of face is thrown into the mix. It is not just the Chinese government that needs to learn that human rights matter – some Chinese people haven’t learned that yet either. It is to them that we should be appealing, not to the CCP, which has no conscience to appeal to.

Anyway, that’s my humble take on the matter:) America certainly isn’t blameless, and should be doing more to pressure the Saudis, as Leo Lai says.

February 19, 2008 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

“Is there a similar situation in China? Sadly, I don’t believe so.”

Why sadly?

“there no cities voting to impeach Hu Jintao”

What for? Did he order the bombing of some country without declaring war?

“there is no mass public discourse on the effect China’s actions are having in other countries. ”

There are more public demonstrations in this country than most. The government sometime concede, sometime the demonstrators relent, end of story, no need for western bad news sensational journalism.

“most disturbingly, many Chinese people seem to have the same mentality as the government, ”

Funny, I was thinking the same about Americans. Most of you have the same blind spots in your views. Hmm, interesting.

“Individually, Chinese people are some of the greatest, most open-minded people I’ve met.”

You don’t say. Wait for the “but”

“However, the saying about a person being smart, and people being stupid, seems especially applicable in China, especially when the whole concept of face is thrown into the mix”

Dang, you got me there, you used “however.” Nevertheless same stinking condescending tone. What we call face you call dignity, same hypocritical
human nature.

“human rights matter – some Chinese people haven’t learned that yet either.”

Why don’t you tell that to the surviving Muslim brothers, widowers, sisters, widows, children and orphans in Iraq, or the Buddhists of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos who today are still losing lives and limbs to US land mines and the effects of Agent Orange? How about head down south to Latin America; go tell them how their Northern Evangelical neighbor cherish the human rights of their Latino catholics brethren with bullets & bombs?

Anyway, that’s just my shallow view on what I’ve read, seen & heard here and there in my years of travel around the world. (Oh, Yes, I’m back — from the friendly Philippines.)

China is certainly not blameless, and should be doing more to please everyone, as many say.

February 20, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Comment

Oh, BTW, my Asian sisters, Philippino men are as charming as white men, and most of them are very artistic & romantic. The only big difference is that they are not as wealthy, but hey, they sure know how to make a woman feel good regardless. Advise to Chinese men, make friends with and learn from the Philippinoes.
Alright, sorry, folks, I know, I know, stay on topic. Ok, this Spielberg dude, he is a great great movie director. Yo, Steven, we understand. You gotta do what you gotta do. Hope to see you at the Olympics. After that go make some more good movies to expose the ugliness of empires you know, like Oliver Stone is so good at. (Honestly, didn’t like your cheesy flags of the father flick.) Cheers.

February 20, 2008 @ 12:37 am | Comment

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