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Beijing To Hold 2008 Olympics

By Merk00 in News
Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:11:39 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

As reported on the BBC among others, Beijing has won the bid to host the 2008 Olympic games. The entire proceeding has brought up the question of China's human rights record, the political nature of the Olympics, and the ability of the Olympics to positively influence a county.

One of the main issues brought up in regards to Beijing's Olympic bid by groups such as Amnesty International was the issue of China's human rights record. It is generally agreed in the west that China has an abysmal record on human rights. Opponents of China's bid have said that further crackdowns on dissidents will occur in the build up to the Olympic games because of the apparent need of stability during the Olympic games. China's response has been that by holding the games in Beijing, there will be further openness by China. What precisely that means is unknown.

Some proponents of China's bid have taken the stance that the Olympics should not be political. According to them, the Olympics are about bringing countries together, no matter what the political issues surrounding the country are. Opponents hold that this gives more legitimacy and prestige to immoral regimes. The Berlin 1936 Olympics are frequently used to illustrate this.

Another viewpoint is that the Olympics are able to influence countries to favorable change. Specifically, the outgoing IOC President Antonio Samaranch felt that the 1984 Seoul Olympics had helped to lead to the change of South Korea from military dictatorship to democracy. The Olympic media coverage should also shed more light onto China's itself; this is also seen as another positive influence of the Olympics.

How the Olympics will influence will effect China has yet to be seen. However, it is known that China will spends large amounts of money and effort into putting on the 2008 Olympics in grand scale.


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Bejing should have been awarded the 2008 Olympics?
o Yes 34%
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Votes: 61
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Beijing To Hold 2008 Olympics | 43 comments (31 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hopefully (4.14 / 7) (#2)
by pallex on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:47:59 AM EST

it will give political-minded winning athletes a priceless stage to either refuse a medal, or dedicate it to the one thousand-plus civilians killed by the authorities there (plus one or 2 other abuses which have happened since)

I vote undecided (2.00 / 5) (#9)
by duxup on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:02:18 AM EST

Oh but for the undecided we weep

Human rights abuses (3.50 / 8) (#11)
by lb008d on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:06:21 AM EST

How do China's internal human rights abuses compare to those comitted externally by the US in places like Indonesia, Latin America, South America and East Asia? Or internally, when one looks at our for-profit prison system?

Obviously I think the US is the proverbial kettle when we point fingers at other countries accusing them of human rights atrocities.

Typically... (none / 0) (#21)
by Xeriar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:52:39 AM EST

We (and I say this in only the most regretful of terms having to associate myself with a country that does this) only try to kill one or two people. And it is the cap on the media, not the general populace (or even many people running the government) that are at fault here.

As for a for-profit prison system, I see nothing wrong with that. The US and some other countries let criminals do quite a lot in prison, so I am not going to let any whining about prison conditions get to me :-)

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

prisons (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by Danse on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:25:28 PM EST

When was the last time you visited a prison? I know people that work in them. US prisons are not something we should be proud of. They're violent and corrupt. While many people are put in jail for violence and corruption, shouldn't the prison system be held to a higher standard than the people it is supposed to incarcerate?

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
you're correct (none / 0) (#26)
by Ender Ryan on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:23:42 PM EST

You are correct about U.S. prison systems. They are an attrocity that needs to be fixed. People in prison constantly have to worry about violence and rape, and some say that's as it should be, but keep in mind that nearly 5% of people in prison are actually innocent, and 50% are in for non-violent crimes. Prisons in the U.S. REALLY need to be cleaned up. Prisoners shouldn't have to fear the other inmates, or the guards.

Our prison system is really quite sad.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

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[ Parent ]

Don't blame the prisons... (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Xeriar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:38:02 PM EST

For what the laws cause.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]
laws? (none / 0) (#28)
by Danse on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:58:30 PM EST

What laws are you referring to, and why are these laws responsible for the current state of US prisons?

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
how about... (none / 0) (#39)
by nevauene on Mon Jul 16, 2001 at 04:57:42 PM EST

...US Drug Policy? Irrational, unrealistic laws that fly in the face of the most basic facts of supply and demand - a war that can never, ever be won. And yet millions are pissed away trying to fight it nonetheless, building more prisons, criminalizing more people. Making criminals out of a large segment of the population (those who use / traffic drugs), for no reason other than to try and preserve an archaic and naive Leave it to Beaver morality, has alot to do with the state of US prisons (and the US judicial system as well). Hell, the US ever has the gall to condemn and harrass countries with the common sense to liberalize their drug policies in recognition of the fact that this is the 21st century, not the middle ages.

Going off on a human rights & drugs tangent, how about Columbia? A human rights record at least as atrocious as China's, and yet the US is happy to provide them with millions of dollars worth of military aid. The people are told "it's to fight the war against drugs!", when in fact much of the aid is going to corrupt paramilitary factions that the US is well aware are involved in cocaine production and export. Columbia is awash in blood, the US has been providing the arms and ammunition to make it happen, and the owned press doesn't bother investigating - government claims that it's all about fighting The Scourge of Hard Drugs are repeated uncritically.

The US military machine makes their friends in big business rich with contracts for weapons, helicopters, pesticides, fuel. Hundreds of millions tossed into a big black hole - or, if you prefer, into the pockets of oligarchs. And yet I can walk down the street and get a gram of coke no problem, as I always will be able to. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. Anyone can see that, and no doubt the architects of the drug war are intelligent enough to realize it. But the drug war isn't about getting rid of drugs at all. It never was.

There is no K5 Cabal.
[ Parent ]
Predictable (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by Woundweavr on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:00:16 PM EST

Whenever issues on China's human right violations are brought up, someone always says the US is just as bad. It doesn't really hold up.

Foreign - The US has put people who they intended to be democratic leaders into power in order to prevent Communism. In some cases, they became dictators or were overthrown and became dictators.

China has taken over neighbors (for instance Tibet, even if their previous government was just as bad).

Domestic - The US has more people in jail than any other country. There is some use of the death penalty for murder after a trial. Free speach is protected.

China uses the death penalty for many crimes and routinely jails those who speak out against the current regime. Free speach, religion and press do not exist.

Also, even if the US was a major human rights violator, would that mean putting the Olympics in China under the 1936 Olympics argument right?

[ Parent ]

US vs. China (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by lb008d on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:03:17 PM EST

US has put people who they intended to be democratic leaders

First off, I hope you see that paradox in that statement. Second, the US installs leaders that it knows will be friendly to US interests, specifically business interests.

China has taken over neighbors

Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico.

[ Parent ]
Yeah . . . (2.66 / 3) (#33)
by adamant on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 12:59:22 AM EST

A couple of places just screaming for independence - when was the last time _you_ saw a "Free Hawaii" T-Shirt?


[ Parent ]
Good points but... (none / 0) (#42)
by Woundweavr on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 07:59:21 AM EST

It's true, you shouldn't (can't?) really install democratic governments. I didn't say it was good. I merely said it wasn't as bad.

Hawaii - a full voting state. How many people of Hawaii want independance? A very small group do, and they allowed to protest/lobby etc. In China's conquered territories, they would have been put down(literally).

Guam & Puerto Rico- The US took over? From the Spanish who had ruled it since 1598 and 1508. It wasn't as if the US came over the waves with carriers, these were a long time colony. Will you complain about Florida next? The Phillipines were also taken after this war. When they asked for independance, it was granted.

[ Parent ]

check your facts (5.00 / 2) (#37)
by boxed on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 06:10:39 PM EST

Foreign: the US had no though of democratic or undemocratic when they supported a government, they just supported non-communists. Just look at their support of the military faschist government of Vietnam that lost power democratically to a socialist movement. The same happened in Chile.

Domestic: "Free speech" when the lawyer sleeps during the trial? The death penalty is a bad thing in and of itself but the US implementation is just silly.

I don't think China should have the olympics, but I didn't hear any public outcries when the US had them, now did I? Oh the US may be much better than China, but remember that the US commits crimes against humanity on a regular basis (according to the UN definition).

[ Parent ]
Facts? (none / 0) (#43)
by Woundweavr on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 08:20:07 AM EST

Socialist? Don't you mean oppressive?

You call for facts, then make passing reference to a lawyer sleeping through a trial? What trial? What lawyer? Real good facts. The Death Penalty is used far more commonly in China, so how is the US's use of it "just silly" if you are against it? How do you feel about routine criminal justice rights violations (by its own lacking rules). Or are you a big supporter of torture without accountability and forced labor for writing or speaking against the current regime. Or what about that people are sent to Reeducation Through Labor for "crimes to minor to merit a trial". Thats over 260,000 people by the way. Here's some more Facts.

I find it rather aggravating for someone to call for facts, then provide none themselves. It is even worse when someone then puts forth a standard issue opinion, vague gestures towards lawyer incompetancies and attempts to make it seem equivalant to widescale execution and torture and forced labor of those who speak against the government. I find it almost as bad that those who read it felt it deserved a "5" and my comment a "2". I don't care about ratings, but god-damn thats depressing. Were those who read these comments ill that day or is it just the general K5 opinion that this type of argument is the best there is. Or maybe they're big torture supporters. I feel rather disgusted right now.

[ Parent ]

Different degrees of abuse (2.00 / 1) (#38)
by wilson on Sun Jul 15, 2001 at 10:36:33 PM EST

The US prison system is definately FUBAR, but it's a far cry from China's. Criminal trials in the US are public events open to scrutiny by all. Chinese trials are not public more often than not.

Incarcerated prisoners in the US cannot be forced to work and are, in fact, paid for their labor. While I have problems with using underpaid prison labor (more because it is a tool used by some industries to screw the labor market than because of unfairness to the prisoner), it is much better than the forced labor of Chinese prisons. They don't have a choice, they aren't paid, and there is no regulation of their living/working conditions. Suck though they may, US prisons aren't gulags and the prisoners can't be described as slaves.

I am strongly opposed to the death penalty, so I clearly don't approve of the US' application of it, but China takes to an entirely differently level.
Quoting from Amnesty International's report "China: Human rights and the spirit of Olympism":
'In the latest "Strike Hard Campaign", the Chinese authorities have managed to execute more people in three months than the rest of the world put together for the last three years. Over 1700 alleged criminals have been executed since April. Many of them are likely to have been tortured to confess to crimes they didn't commit and few would have received a fair trial.'

Can anyone say this is reasonable? Whatever your opinion of US policies, it is still a liberal (I use this term in its broadest sense) democracy. But even if were an authoritarian facist stronghold, would it really diminish the disapproval with which we should view China's actions?

China wants to use the Olympics as an opportunity to showcase themselves as a modern nation and they now promise "By allowing Beijing to host the Games you will help the development of human rights." What!? How do they figure that? Do something for China and we will (maybe) move in the direction that you'd like in the future.

China needs to be held accountable for their actions at every turn. The Olympic site selection is just one more useful opportunity to do this.


[ Parent ]

A Bigger Prison Labor Problem (none / 0) (#40)
by Steve B on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 01:58:57 PM EST

While I have problems with using underpaid prison labor (more because it is a tool used by some industries to screw the labor market than because of unfairness to the prisoner)

Actually, the bottom-line problem I see is that it creates an incentive to imprison people without legitimate justification (e.g. for drug use) -- prison industry is the "lite" version of Niven's "organ bank problem".

[ Parent ]

Not such a big problem (none / 0) (#41)
by wilson on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 09:44:25 PM EST

I considered that possibility, but it just doesn't seem compelling. Most convicts do not work for private corporations, they either do work within the prison (cooking, cleaning, etc) or do menial tasks for the state which - while creating savings - will never be a profit center. Nobody's getting rich off of license plates.

I think that there's also substantial separation between the various legislative, enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and penitentiary institutions in the US to remove that incentive. It makes it difficult to see how those corporations benefitting from prison labor can influence criminal law. Are telephone customer-support companies (a big prison industry) actually lobbying for increased drug penalties? That would quickly raise big red flags.

Certainly the state ultimately loses money by imprisoning people. Imprisoning more only means an increased cost. Even if there are savings from selling prison labor to outside contractors, there is no economy of scale in incarceration.

OTOH, I find it easier to believe that the prison companies like Wackenhut do have an interest in states imprisoning more people.

Personally, I think there should be NO private prisons. I also believe that all prison labor should be voluntary, should be paid the minimum wage (adjusted for the fact that the state is covering food, housing, and medical for the prisoner), and should only be engaged in work for the prison itself or directly for a public institution. That way, the non-felon working population cannot possibly suffer because of prison labor

Your "organ bank" comment brings us back the original thread of Chinese human rights violations. China has repeatedly been accused by Amnesty International of using prisoners as organ "donors" for people in need of transplants.


[ Parent ]

This is a tough one (3.83 / 6) (#12)
by jd on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:06:51 AM EST

As has already been pointed out, the Olympics -can- be a force for positive change. On the other hand, it's also been used as an excuse for displacing the homeless and the poor, to keep them out of camera-view.

Then, let's take the political aspect. The US opposed it, but the US has also been caught bribing Olympic officials, so I suspect that their views were taken with a pinch of salt. Further, Taiwan - a country not known to be on great terms with China's regime - actually backed the Chinese bid.

Finally, let's consider that the Olympics - in theory - are supposed to be contests between the premiere amateur athletes of the day, not contests of glamour, political viewpoint, etc.

If someone wants to start up a Political Olympics, with events such as "3 mile debating", or "free-style budget skating", then I'm sure they will get sufficient interest to hold such an event. In the meantime, politicians have no business interfering in amateur athletics.

IF the bid was found to be won through corruption, then by all means have the venue re-located. If not, then the US Government should beware pointing fingers. For every one they point, three point back to them.

As if (3.33 / 3) (#17)
by Ticino on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:27:12 AM EST

In the meantime, politicians have no business interfering in amateur athletics.

We haven't had an "amateur" oriented olympics in ages, if ever in modern olympic history. Maybe before Berlin in 1936 the olympics were amateur athletes, but since then, it's either been state sponsored athletes, or in modern times, grabbing your countries professional athletes to compete. Case in point? Look at olympic basketball.

[ Parent ]

Surely.. (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by pallex on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:33:26 AM EST

you arent suggesting that we should hold it in Afganistan, and pour money into the cartoon-character regime thats `running` the place at the moment?
How about apartheid-era South Africa? Many cricketers got pilloried for playing there (and musicians, for playing Sun City). They aren`t politicians, but they are playing a part on the political stage as surely as if they`d spoken for/against either regime.

It would be nice to think that good would come of holding the olympics in China. Surely some small businesses/ordinary people (as well as foreign construction companies & the state) will benefit financially. And you just know that there`ll be some world-headline grabbing references to Tiananmen square to make the leaders squirm.

[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree with what you're saying (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by jd on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 04:22:54 PM EST

The Olympics has been, and will continue to be, used for political ends, and also as a means to manipulate public sentiment.

Classic example being the Mexican Olympics.

The problem with holding the Olympics in Afghanistan is that the torch (and, indeed, the entire history of the games) is riddled with Pagan references, which would undoubtably force them to bomb their own stadium, after the opening ceremony. For the good of the people.

In the same way that the East German Pole-Vaulting team was quite successful (in becoming the West German Pole-Vaulting team), I'd certainly advocate Afghanistan to field a long-distance running team.

[ Parent ]

Taiwan's reasons (4.50 / 4) (#24)
by Sharrow on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:04:26 PM EST

The only reason Taiwan backed the Beijing bid is that it will force the PRC to be on its best behaviour.

So for Taiwan that will mean no invasion, until at least 2009

I've got green eyes, red hair, and I'm left handed. A hundred years ago, I'd have been considered in league with the Devil.
[ Parent ]
Pointing Fingers? (none / 0) (#34)
by adamant on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 01:08:41 AM EST

What part of the government is pointing fingers here? Neither the White House nor either house of Congress supported or opposed Beijing's bid.

If anything, I think that the US Government would have supported the bid. if it hadn't have been for the spy plane incident

China means big money to US-based corporations. I wouldn't presume that the US gov't would automatically oppose Beijing's Olympic bid. In my opinion, the US opposition seemed like more of a grass-roots thing.


[ Parent ]
How the IOC works (4.00 / 4) (#16)
by cetan on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:11:56 AM EST

Take a look at this book that detail how the IOC really works:

The Great Olympic Swindle : When the World Wanted Its Games Back by Andrew Jennings, Clare Sambrook.

For a more general discussion on the Olympic games, take a look at:

Power, Politics, and the Olympic Games by Alfred Erich Senn.

Senne is a professor (Professor Emeritus) at the University of Wisconsin (Madison)

Two excellent books.

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====

Dissident Strife (4.00 / 5) (#19)
by Merk00 on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:38:51 AM EST

One thought I had about the 2008 Olympic games was that there was a possibility of some sort of dissident protests inside China during the games. This would be particularly interesting because China either would have to ignore it because of the games or risk a lot of world attention. First of all, it's during the Olympics so the spotlight will be on China to begin with. Second of all, any attacks on the protesters (a la Tiannemen Square) could be seen as a violation of the Olympic Truce. I expect to see something relating to China during the games but don't know what quite yet.

"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission

Ah well... (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Ron Harwood on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:02:25 PM EST

Being a Canadian (who works in Toronto), I am both disappointed (it would have been cool, and brought a lot of change/improvement to the area) and relieved at the same time. (Would you want to commute to work during the olympics, in the city that is holding the olympics?)

Plus, I don't think I can make it to China for the olympics - this would have been an easy trip for me. ;)

BlackNova Traders - Tradewars for the web
Traffic and other thoughts (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by getafix on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 06:02:14 PM EST

I was here in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics. Transportation ended up being a non-issue; in fact many were disappointed when the Olympics ended. The fear of traffic was so great, companies urged people to work from home - as a result the roads were empty. Unfortunately Atlanta's poor public transport system was taxed heavily. I was sardine packed on buses and trains when going to events.

I was in Toronto recently; a beautiful city. I was charmed by the waterfront. However, in spite of how good the public transport is , I think it has stayed stagnant for long enough, and fallen behind some American cities (from reading the Toronto papers while I was there). Things can be improved, and Toronto can once again take the title of most public transport friendly city in North America. The Olympics would have helped with getting the money to do that. Atlantas infrastructure improved markedly as a result of the Olympics. I was rooting for Toronto, and was quiet disappointed; will root for them again - its a very cosmospolitan, friendly, safe and beautiful city.

[ Parent ]
the olympics... (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by coffee17 on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:49:07 PM EST

Some proponents of China's bid have taken the stance that the Olympics should not be political. According to them, the Olympics are about bringing countries together, the olympics are not about bringing countries together. They are about money. The IOC seems to be a fairly non-benign entity, going after many small businesses which have the word "olympic" in their name, even if it is no way related to the olympics. Sure, way back when the Olympics might have been about bringing countries together, but it's only bringing them together to compete. A giant dick size competition for countries.



Mixed feelings... (none / 0) (#35)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 05:20:44 AM EST

China surely understands how bright a spotlight they will be in as 2008 approaches, so I think even ignorant tyrants like them are bright enough to be on their best behavior. I predict the 2008 Olympics will be very carefully staged to look perfectly equal and just and normal. It probably even will be, too.


Not that it matters to me, is my main point. The Olympics have for years just been a joke to me, in many ways. Any sporting competition where both children and adults compete, and sometimes against each other, is simply ludicrous and has no basis in reality. I speak of 13 year old (or are they in diapers yet?) ice skaters. The Olympics should be a test of ADULT physical capabilities. If an Olympic athlete is not an adult, then they should not be an Olympic athlete. Pure and simple. You can't have a meaningful comparison between the physical capabilities of adults and children!

Plus all the strange little demonstrations and concerts and performances and crap are turning the Olympics into a clone of the Superbowl. What will we have in 2008? A Metallica concert with fireworks and seminaked cheerleaders? Gimme a fuckin break.

This is a far cry from some mother-nekkid Greek dudes tussling in the dust thousands of years ago.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Doesn't China have a cheating reputation? (none / 0) (#36)
by jesterzog on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 06:06:33 AM EST

Human rights issues aside for a moment, there's one argument quite relevant to this that I'm surprised I haven't heard more of.

I might be mistaken but doesn't China have one of the worst cheating reputations in recent times with regard to performance enhancing drugs? Both in practice, and in general attitude to not taking the issue very seriously.

I thought that both the Olympic committee representatives as well as others would have considered this a bit more seriously than they seem to have.

As it is, I agree with several other posters that the Olympics have become a bloated waste of time. You could hold them in a childrens playground and they could be as meaningful as they were originally supposed to be, but there's so much marketing and commercial crap surrounding and pouring money into the Olympics now that it's impossible to see anything special - for me at least.

I feel happy for the athletes who get to participate at that level in a way that means something to them, but all the frothy junk that gets spewed at the viewers makes me feel sick.

jesterzog Fight the light

Beijing To Hold 2008 Olympics | 43 comments (31 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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