After the chaos surrounding the Olympic torch relay in Paris and London, various media are publishing editorials and op-eds on China’s role as Olympic host. As the torch enters San Francisco for its only North American stop, Congresswoman Barbara Lee writes in the San Francisco Chronicle:
China’s resistance to sanctioning Sudan for the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and the continuing violence toward and repression of Tibetan monks have prompted a world outcry against China. The reason is clear. The spirit of the Olympics is about bringing together nations and people from all over the world in peace. China’s support for the genocidal regime in Khartoum, and its own actions in Tibet, run contrary to that Olympic spirit. But as host, China puts itself in the international spotlight and invites questions about its own commitment to human rights.
Here is AP footage of the torch arriving in San Francisco under cover of darkness early this morning:
“FREE TIBET” Giant Banners on Golden Gate Bridge, Apr.7-2008
SF mayor Gavin Newsom has said the torch route will be altered to minimize protests.
While Germany’s Der Spiegel writes in an editorial:
After the Chinese government’s suppression of a rebellion in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and in the huge country’s western provinces, the West is suffering the shock of realization. Many thought that China, as it emerges to become a modern economic power benefiting from Western-style globalization, was moving beyond a past littered with human rights violations. Now, it is suddenly being revealed once again as a depressingly ordinary old-style dictatorship — and as a perfectly functioning police state in which raising one’s head in protest is a dangerous undertaking.
Almost every day brings new, bitter disillusionment for foreigners who have been only too willing to admire China, and to marvel at the Shanghai skyline, at the frenzy of modernization that has gripped the Chinese economy and at the late-night traffic jams created by the proud owners of new cars in China’s mega-cities. Now, however, Chinese authorities are busy dashing hopes that China’s ascent to affluence and global power might automatically lead to political liberalization. Or that Starbucks coffee shops would inevitably encourage democratic discussion. Or that Audi sedans could guarantee unlimited freedom. Any such aspirations are now clearly a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, in the International Herald Tribune, Philip Bowring writes about the potential domestic consequences of the nationalistic sentiment that has flared as a result of recent events in Tibet and Olympics protests:
Nationalism is more often aroused by setbacks than success, so the Tibet problems and the possible threats to a triumphal Olympics are stirring it in China.
On the horizon is the possibility that these will combine with high inflation, stagnating exports and trade tensions with the United States to create a perfect nationalistic storm.
The Chinese leadership faces a difficult balancing act.
The Earth Times reports on the government’s efforts to counter the protest messages:
The state-run news agency Xinhua condemned protesters for “vile misdeeds” while Wang Hui, spokeswoman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said, “We strongly condemn the disgusting behaviour of a handful of Tibetan separatists who have tried to sabotage the Olympic torch relay.”
“Their despicable activities tarnish the lofty Olympic spirit and challenge all the people loving the Olympic Games around the world,” Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu added Tuesday.
Pro Tibet protesters climb Golden Gate Bridge april 7 2008