Monday, March 24, 2008

What is wrong with the Beijing Olympics?

Well, let's start out with the restrictive media service and then move on up to the human rights abuses.

According to the charter of the Olympic movement, "the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

Ironic then, that the Olympics come to a country where the youth are educated in discrimination, there is no spirit of friendship between China and Tibet and there is no fair play for the media.

Consider what will happen when the media roll into town, and find out that their internet access has been severely restricted by a government wanting to present a sanitized version of itself to the world.

Even the biggest of internet corporations Google has found itself regulated to within an inch of its life for wanting to move into the expanding Chinese market. So is any journalist that covers the Beijing games truly free to send their thoughts home? Or will they be thoroughly 'fact checked' before being allowed to be broadcast?

Certainly the western fear is that the Chinese government will be doing its very best to ensure that only positive articles reach the eyes and ears of a western audience. It seems that the truth will only have one flavour once 8.08.08 rolls around.

Much has been written since Beijing was first awarded the game about this being a chance for China to join the wider international community, but is it truly making efforts to join or to remain a isolationist state?

China's recent conflict with Tibetan protesters in border towns, and it's funding of the Darfur atrocity is a clear indication of the aims of the Chinese government in acquiring these games.

Instead of making an effort of 'restore' ties with Tibet and open negotiations about tentative independence, the Chinese government persists with a clearly unpopular crackdown on the protesters.

So it clear that Beijing does not want to join the international community, but rather show off the country in all of it's self righteous glory to an international audience. It is using the games to reinforce it's own position on human rights, rather than using the games as a starting point for a healing process.

One has to feel sorry for those caught in the middle of this ideological struggle, the athletes.

Instead of being asked questions about their performance and how they think they'll fare at the Olympics, increasingly they're being trust into the political limelight. They struggle to field questions about their stance on human rights abuses, and who could blame them?

Their life is about the pursuit of excellence and competition, so musing on human rights and media rights violations doesn't often enter the minds of the athletes. Those with political leaning you feel, are being gagged by the various sports bodies wanting to avoid controversy.

The standard line "I'm looking forward to competing against the best in the world, and right now am focusing on that" is being offered through clenched teeth by athletes when grilled on human rights.

So does the Olympics serve the ideological agenda of the Chinese government or highlight the human rights abuses evident in the country?

Well, the fact that I'm writing this post has to be a positive thing. Any raising of awareness in regards to a violation of human rights must be a positive thing. But will the asking of all these questions actually solve anything, or just highlight the hypocrisy evident in the policies of western governments toward China? The western governments that eye China with greedy eyes are the ones that could actually put pressure on China, if they wanted to.

I'll leave you with one final question to ponder about this complicated issue.

Can you put a price tag on human rights abuses?


Melaisis said... - Ta da! Welcome to N3twork!

Anyway, this issue is one which is going to plague all media outlets on the run-up to the games. TBH, I don't think the Chinese government has the resources to check the reports of every journalist, mediocre reporter or blogger there.

Jimmy said...

Well, they do regulate the internet network in China, and you can bet that most of the major media outlets will have some trouble getting 'controversial' stories out.

Amateur bloggers covering the games should be okay, because the Chinese government will not deem them as a threat, as they don't reach a large number of people.

I'm starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.