Other Views: Beijing Olympics shine spotlight on nervous China
Los Angeles Times Isn't it a pity that the Beijing Olympics are in 2008 instead of 2018? It may take a decade for China to make meaningful improvements in its abysmal human rights record. But that shouldn't deter those seeking to shame the Chines...
Los Angeles Times
Isn't it a pity that the Beijing Olympics are in 2008 instead of 2018? It may take a decade for China to make meaningful improvements in its abysmal human rights record.
But that shouldn't deter those seeking to shame the Chinese government into shaping up for the spotlight that will be cast a year from now. Beijing is acutely sensitive to its international image - but mainly when its commercial interests are at stake. The leadership displays chilling indifference to criticism of its repressive treatment of dissidents, journalists and citizens who attempt to assert their rights.
True, Chinese diplomats appear to have realized the public relations danger posed by celebrities who have lambasted China for allegedly abetting genocide in Darfur. But the leadership's fury was more evident in its decision last month to execute its bribe-taking chief food and drug regulator after a tsunami of bad PR about tainted pet food, toothpaste and cough syrup sold abroad.
With exports soaring and a $115-billion trade surplus with the world, who can fault China's leaders for concluding that global customers will snap up its wares no matter what its human rights record? Still, it is consumers, the international media and cultural colossi such as Steven Spielberg - not preachy foreign governments - who can best further reform in China by speaking out before the Olympic torch arrives. We wish China peace, prosperity and successful Games - but not a system that jails journalists, silences dissidents and ignores the brutalization of the people who make the products the world enjoys.