2008 Beijing Olympiad

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A UWO Gazette sketch
(reposted with permission).
comic
click image to read editorial

The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists (also a Nobel peace laureate and head of the in-exile government) “was recognized at age two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and enthroned before he turned four. He assumed full powers at age 15, in the year that troops from Mao Zedong’s newly founded communist republic entered Tibet and crushed its small army.” 07 Tibet had been effectively independent for decades before Chinese communist troops imposed Beijing’s control in 1950.” 09 On 1959/03/10 a failed rebellion against Chinese rule sent the Dalai Lama into exile in India. On this year’s anniversary of that rebellion, an uprising centred in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, began. 01

“Tibetan protests spread to China’s capital…with students holding a silent vigil at a Beijing university as a deadline expired in Lhasa for the surrender of those China accused of sparking the uprising… 04

Some have accused China of cultural genocide against the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama has referred to the new Qinghai-Tibet railway which brings thousands of Chinese migrants to Lhasa every week to further dilute the Tibetan population. And travellers are forbidden from speaking Tibetan while riding buses. 01

“Journalists have been barred from entering any of the Tibetan regions, despite Chinese promises to allow free movement of journalists in this Olympic year.” 10

According to the Chinese government, the violent protests led to the deaths of 16 people. But spokespersons for the Dalai Lama’s camp say the figure for deaths is as high as 80. 08

In a subsequent “military crackdown…carried out under a fog of secrecy with foreign media expelled from the region…Chinese authorities stripped Tibetans of basic rights like free speech and freedom of religion. 02

“India hosts the Dalai Lama in the India city of Dharamsala, seat of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile… More than 2,000 Tibetans gathered…from all over northeastern India for their biggest rally in the area in years, demanding the United Nations investigate reports of killings of protesters in China.” 07

Tibetan-Canadians upset with China’s crackdown in their homeland staged a loud but peaceful 2008/03/17 protest outside the Chinese consulate in Toronto.

“Canada’s Tamil community includes about 250,000 people – the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka.” 05

Complicating Canadian reaction to the China/Tibet situation, a Toronto resident who was soliciting cash donations in British Columbia for the LTTE, has been charged under this country’s Antiterrorism Act which was passed in 2001. It’s reported to be “the first time police in Canada have pressed charges under federal antiterrorism financing legislation.” 05 The LTTE (commonly known as Tamil Tigers) separatist group “was blacklisted in Canada as a terrorist outfit shortly after the Conservatives formed the government in 2006.” 05

Next month, Toronto Mayor David Miller plans to visit the western city of Chongqing, which has a sister-city relationship with the Canadian city. The trip is being co-ordinated with a similar mission for businesses organized by the Canada-China Business Council. A spokesperson for the council is reported to have referred to the recent events in Tibet as being “distractions.” 01

The Canadian government had been remaining largely silent. But Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier is reported to have delivered a ‘one-China policy’ speech to Asian ambassadors behind closed doors in Ottawa on 2008/03/12 and a text of that speech indicates that he said “we recognize the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China.” 06

According to Charles Burton (former Canadian diplomat in China and currently a Brock University professor), the “subtle but meaningful change in Conservative government rhetoric on China…would suggest that Canada supports Chinese government claims to legitimate sovereignty over Taiwan and over Tibet.” 06

“A Canadian team of about 330 athletes, plus 140 support staff, will participate in the 2008 Summer Olympiad Aug. 8-24 in Beijing. 03

France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says that although “France had no plans to boycott the entire Olympic Games…the European Union should consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if violence continues in Tibet.” 07

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy said…that he cannot rule out the possibility he might boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if China continues its crackdown in Tibet [and] an official from France’s state television company said the broadcaster would likely boycott the games if coverage was censored.” 12

The COC suggests that the Tibetan situation “isn’t even being raised by a single one of its 90-plus members who would need to vote on a boycott.” 02

“The Canadian Olympic Committee agreed with European Union sport ministers and various countries’ Olympic committees Monday in ruling out the possibility of a boycott of the Games… The IOC’s position is that it is a sports organization and can’t lecture China on political matters. The COC echoes that sentiment.” 03

But “the rhetoric was turned up a notch…when 600 people protested in Lausanne, Switzerland, demanding the IOC call off a section of the Olympic torch relay in Tibet.” 08

Beijing plans for the torch to be carried to the top of Mount Everest. Organizing committee Executive Vice-President Jiang Xiaoyu has said that the ascent to the top of the world’s tallest mountain would be the “highlight” of the relay and “a great feat in Olympic history.” 11

The 1976 Montreal Games were the target of an anti-apartheid boycott because some of the Olympic countries maintained sports relations with the former apartheid regime of South Africa. In 1980, the U.S. led a boycott of the Moscow Olympics in order to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Eastern Bloc countries retaliated with a subsequent boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles games. Both boycotts were viewed by many as being ineffective, and a similar large number of people felt that the athletes were victimized by the politics.

Sources:
01. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: Tibetan-Canadians protest Chinese crackdown
02. 2008/03/20 – LFP: Protesters to call for Olympic boycott
03. 2008/03/17 – Globe&Mail: Canada won’t boycott Beijing
04. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: Tibetans stage protest in Beijing
05. 2008/03/17 – Globe&Mail: Alleged solicitation for banned terror group…
06. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: Canada subtly signalling change of policy…
07. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: France hints at Olympic boycott over Tibet
08. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: Canada will not boycott Olympics, COC says
09. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: China says Dalai Lama trying to ruin Olympics
10. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: Photo evidence of Tibet horror comes to light
11. 2008/03/18 – Globe&Mail: China ready to hold talks with Dalai Lama
12. 2008/03/25 – Globe&Mail: Sarkozy won’t rule out opening ceremony boycott

Other Links:
China e-Lobby
2008/03/16 – Toronto Star: China quells Tibet protest
2008/03/16 – Toronto Star: Tibetan riots spread, Lhasa in lockdown
2008/03/16 – Toronto Star: China blocks YouTube.com over Tibet videos
2008/03/17 – Toronto Star: China pledges harsh measures
2008/03/18 – Toronto Star: China’s Olympic hurdle in Tibet
2008/03/19 – Globe&Mail: French minister backtracks on Olympic boycott
2008/03/19 – Toronto Star: Beijing admits riots spread to provinces…
2008/03/20 – Globe&Mail: China admits shooting Tibetan protesters
2008/03/20 – Toronto Star: China sends troops to Tibetan areas
2008/03/20 – Canada.com: Demonstrators chant for Tibet on Parliament Hill
2008/03/20 – Globe&Mail: Harper urges China to use ‘restraint’ in Tibet
2008/03/21 – Globe&Mail: Tibet’s move; 50 years in the making
2008/03/21 – Globe&Mail: Why Tibet is boiling over
2008/03/21 – Toronto Star: Controversy won’t delay China mission
2008/03/21 – Globe&Mail: Thousands of troops push into western China
2008/03/21 – Globe&Mail: China shuts down 25 websites
2008/03/21 – Toronto Star: China tightens control
2008/03/21 – CNEWS: Several hundred people take to Vancouver streets
2008/03/22 – Globe&Mail: China launches media campaign on Tibet unrest
2008/03/22 – Toronto Star: China steps up riot manhunt
2008/03/23 – Toronto Star: The other thorn in China’s side
2008/03/23 – Globe&Mail: China lashes out at critics
2008/03/23 – Globe&Mail: China protest draws hundreds
2008/03/23 – CNEWS: Hundreds of Tibetan supporters march in Toronto
2008/03/24 – Toronto Star: Hundreds rally in Toronto for free Tibet
2008/03/24 – Toronto Star: Protests mar Olympic torch lighting
2008/03/24 – Globe&Mail: Tibet supporters take to streets of Toronto
2008/03/24 – Globe&Mail: China jails man who urged rights over Olympics
2008/03/24 – Globe&Mail: Protest disrupts Olympic flame-lighting ceremony
2008/03/24 – Globe&Mail: IOC president in ‘silent diplomacy’ with China
2008/03/24 – canada.com: [poll] Most Canadians opposed to Olympic boycott
2008/03/25 – Globe&Mail: The great call of China…
2008/03/25 – Toronto Star: Olympic torch run inflames Tibet protesters
2008/03/25 – Toronto Star: China slams jail door on Olympic dissent

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One Response to “2008 Beijing Olympiad”

  1. Tom Says:

    About boycotting the Olympic Games, i’m not sure it will do any good…On the contrary it will upset the Chinese People who will only understand what the Party will tell to understand…
    We’d better go as the OG are a great means to directly communicate with the Chinese People without the communist filter.

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