Tuesday April 8, 2008
Let's boycott China altogether
By BILL TIELEMAN
It is increasingly clear that much of the current wave of repression is occurring not in spite of the Olympics, but actually because of the Olympics.
- Amnesty International, April 1, 2008
Boycott the Chinese Olympic games?
How about we just boycott China?
A country run by a vicious military dictatorship should never have been awarded the 2008 summer Olympics in the first place - and that was before its repressive attacks on Tibet.
Despite pious claims by China's leaders that it would improve human rights and allow foreign journalists full freedom to report on the Olympics, the reality is that new crackdowns are doing exactly the opposite.
On Thursday, Chinese human rights advocate Hu Jia was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for "subversion." Jia is a cyber dissident whose popular Internet blog posted articles about Chinese human rights violations and corruption.
On Friday, the CBC sent a protest letter to Lu Shumin, China's ambassador to Canada, because its websites have been blocked by the Chinese authorities for months.
And CBC is actually the official Canadian broadcaster of the Beijing Olympic Games.
Then there is the ongoing Chinese effort to isolate and intimidate Taiwan, a democratic country it claims as its own property.
The extent of Chinese bullying can be seen in its successful pressure to ban Taiwan from the World Health Organization, an international body that states: "Health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats."
Except, that is, if China objects. And it doesn't stop at the WHO. China has even blocked Taiwanese reporters from being accredited to cover the World Health Assembly since 2004, despite objections from journalistic organizations.
Perhaps it's threatening to the communist dictatorship if Taiwan newspapers and television tell the country's 23 million people about illnesses like the avian flu that know no borders.
We mustn't forget Tibet, where the paranoid Chinese government blames the Noble Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama, for Tibetans protesting the ongoing occupation of their country.
Ambassador Shumin actually went on Canadian television to call the Dalai Lama a "liar" and compare Tibet's government prior to the Chinese takeover with the Nazis.
Perhaps Shumin would enjoy another TV appearance to explain his government's appalling treatment of Falun Gong practioners and other dissidents as well, but I doubt it.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rightly decided not to attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics to send a clear signal that China's behaviour is offensive to the world.
And if China, our second largest trading partner, retaliates? Yes, we'll just have to make do without poisonous lead toys for our children and contaminated food products. That will be tough.