Playing Games on Chinese

Ann Kent is a Visiting Fellow in the ANU College of Law and author of Beyond Compliance: China, International Organizations and Global Security (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2007). She writes the following commentary on

The current crisis in Tibet represents a turning point not only for China but for the international community as a whole.

For China, dissent in Tibet threatens the successful staging of the Olympic Games, which was planned to crown its triumphant re-entry into the international community. For the international community, and in particular Western states, China’s suppression of that dissent represents a challenge to international norms and rules which, if not correctly handled now, may jeopardise that value system and critically distort China’s sense of its place in the world. It will also set back change in China, where, at this very moment, some Chinese intellectuals are calling for an end to oppression in Tibet.

The Olympic Games is an occasion of mega-symbolism, signifying the brotherhood of man. Symbolism is very important to China. If the 2008 Games are allowed by the international community to pass as if nothing had happened in Tibet, the message to China will be that human rights are of no account before the towering realities of its economic and military power.


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