China is increasingly finding that the Olympic Games are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they will celebrate the country’s astonishing economic transformation and, no doubt, the prowess of its athletes. On the other, they are drawing attention to its repressive political system and the disaster it has inflicted on the environment.
There is plenty for critics of the regime to latch on to in its conduct of domestic affairs. Yet the first major loss of face over the Olympics concerned Darfur, over which Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood mogul, resigned as artistic adviser in protest at Chinese support for the Sudanese government’s genocidal campaign in the western region.
Now, the demonstrations are taking place nearer home, both in India, where police yesterday broke up a march by Tibetan exiles on their homeland, and in Lhasa, where Buddhist monks protested against rule from Beijing on the anniversary of the failed uprising of 1959.