China Falls Short on Vows for Olympics

China has a "'Long Way to Go' On Rights, Pollution And Press Freedom," according to Jill Drew and Maureen Fan of the Washington Post:

China has spent billions of dollars to fulfill its commitment to stage a grand Olympics. Athletes will compete in world-class stadiums. New highways and train lines crisscross Beijing. China built the world's largest airport terminal to welcome an expected 500,000 foreign visitors. Thousands of newly planted trees and dozens of colorful "One World, One Dream" billboards line the main roads of a spruced-up capital. The security system has impressed the FBI and Interpol.

But beneath the shimmer and behind the slogan, China is under criticism for suppressing Tibetan protests, sealing off large portions of the country to foreign reporters, harassing and jailing dissidents and not doing enough to curb air pollution. It has not lived up to a pledge in its Olympic action plan, released in 2002, to "be open in every aspect," and a constitutional amendment adopted in 2004 to recognize and protect human rights has not shielded government critics from arrest.

The two realities show that when China had to build something new to fulfill expectations, it has largely delivered. But in areas that touch China's core interests, Olympic pledges come second.

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A haze of pollution hangs over China's National Stadium, known as the bird's nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8. (By Greg Baker -- Associated Press)

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