China lobbied long and hard to host this summer’s Olympics, and thousands of Chinese literally danced in the streets when the decision was made to award Beijing the Games. This was to be a chance for the Chinese to show the world just how far they and their country had come.
I do not know if there is a Mandarin equivalent for “Be careful what you wish for,” but if there is, it surely applies. China is getting a great deal of international attention, but not the sort it bargained for. On the contrary, China is finding itself under intense international scrutiny for everything from its policy toward Tibet, human rights, and product safety to the level of its currency, its policy in Sudan, and global climate change. What was meant to be a moment of celebration has turned into one of criticism.
Indeed, it is likely that several prominent world leaders, including Prime Minster Brown of Britain, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, will not attend the opening ceremonies. Several prominent American politicians have voiced support for a boycott. Still other heads of state, including President Sarkozy of France, are weighing staying away.