Should we care what happens in China?

During China's bid for the Olympics in 2001, Beijing Olympic official Liu Jingmin stated that the Olympic Games are "an opportunity to foster democracy, improve human rights and integrate China with the rest of the world."[1] This pledge was in keeping with the principle of advancing "a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity," as put forth in the Olympic Charter.[2] In spite of these promises and other international human rights obligations, however, the Chinese authorities

* Have displaced an estimated 1.5 million Beijing residents in preparation for the Olympic Games[3]

* Continue to target human rights activists by imprisoning them, preventing them from leaving or returning to Beijing, and keeping them under tight police surveillance.[4]

* Remain the world's leading jailer of journalists for the eighth consecutive year, with at least 29 journalists in prison in 2007[5]

These actions fundamentally undermine the spirit of the Olympics. As Hu Jia and Teng Biao wrote in their article "The Real Situation in Pre-Olympics China," "If there is no dignity or human rights, then there can be no real Olympics," and "for anyone who wishes to avoid a disgraceful Olympics, knowing the truth is the first step."


1. "Incorporating Responsibility 2008: About the Issue: Olympics and the Rule of Law," February 2008, http://www.ir2008.org/02/issue.php.

2. Olympic Charter, http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf.

3. Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Press release: "China's Olympic dream displaces 1.5 million people: The IOC and the Chinese Government have continuously failed to take responsibility for mass housing rights violations," July 16, 2008, http://www.cohre.org/media.

4. Human Rights in China, "Human Rights Situation in China Worsens as Bush Calls for a More Open Society," August 07, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/68117.

5. Committee to Protect Journalists, "CPJ: One in 6 journalists held without charge," http://cpj.org/Briefings/2007/imprisoned_07/imprisoned_07.html.


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