On the eve of the Beijing Olympics I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, for the athletes I want the Olympics to be a success. On the other hand, for the sake of human rights in China, I want the Olympics to be a failure, that the athletics be overshadowed by China’s abominable human rights record.
What I fear and expect is that China will pull off a stunning Olympics that will be both beautiful and epic. Nations will praise China and the glow from these Olympics will for a long time blur out the human rights issues, especially those of the weak and unspoken for such as the North Korean refugees. During the build up towards the Olympics, China began to crack down even further on dissidents, refugees, Tibetan protesters, etc. Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper is making the unprecedented move of not attending the opening ceremonies specifically for this reason. What a powerful statement it would have been if other dignitaries had done this but alas I fear the Canadian Prime Minister will be only one of a few. Though President Bush did end up going he did use his time there to speak about how China needs to improve human rights.
One thing that has disappointed me is the nationalism of several Chinese who so want these Olympics to be a success that they have turned against any and all human rights protesters. For example there was the incident of the protester for North Korean rights being attacked.
China promised to improve human rights and environmental record as part of its Olympics bid. It has not lived up to its promise and instead has tried to sweep everything under the carpet as the international spotlight shines on China. I hope change does occur but I’m not so sure it will anytime soon.