Κίνα... Ένας Κόσμος... Ένα Όνειρο... Ένα μεγάλο Ανθρωπιστικό...Πρόβλημα...

One World, One Dream, One Big Human Rights Problem

The media has also been suppressed in China. Police roughed up journalists at a protest by Reporters Without Borders on Monday in Beijing. Here a handout issued by the group shows handcuffs as the five rings in the famous Olympic symbol.

The media has also been suppressed in China. Police roughed up journalists at a protest by Reporters Without Borders on Monday in Beijing. Here a handout issued by the group shows handcuffs as the five rings in the famous Olympic symbol.

The Beijing 2008 Olympics are just one year off as of August 8. As the country celebrates the countdown to the Summer Games, German commentators take a critical look at the country's democratic and civil liberties deficiencies.

Free Tibet activists unfurl a protest banner on the Great Wall of China, just before getting detained by police.

Free Tibet activists unfurl a protest banner on the Great Wall of China, just before getting detained by police.

August 8 is the start of the one-year countdown until the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in Beijing. The Middle Kingdom is using the games as a coming-out party to showcase a communist country that in less than 50 years has emerged from practically feudal conditions under Mao to become one of the greatest economic success stories of the new millennium.

But this week also underscores the contradictions of the dictatorship as it prepares for its golden moment on the world stage. When it comes to respecting human rights, the country could use the kind of ambitious and forward-looking reforms that have made its economy so successful.

Earlier this week, authorities arrested journalists from the press freedom non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders after they unfurled a banner outside the Olympic Organizing Committee's offices in Beijing protesting against the incarceration of 29 Chinese reporters. The banner depicted the Olympic rings as handcuffs -- a symbol of the lack of freedom of speech in China. Arrests were also made of Free Tibet activists who hung a banner reading, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" on the Great Wall of China.

Meanwhile, a group of 40 prominent Chinese dissidents, some of whom are in jail, published an open letter to President Hu Jintao and International Olympic Committee President (IOC) Jacques Rogge. In the missive, they called for the communist government in Beijing to use the opportunity presented by the Olympics to give amnesty to political prisoners, permit exiled Chinese to return and provide just compensation to people forced to move because of massive infrastructure projects like the Three Gorges Dam. They also demanded the establishment of free unions as well as an independent committee to oversee Olympic spending.

Amnesty International has also lashed out at China for civil liberties deficiencies. "Unless the Chinese authorities take urgent measures to stop human rights violations over the coming year, they risk tarnishing the image of China and the legacy of the Beijing Olympics," said Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International.


Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (10 Photos)

German commentators on Wednesday look critically at the developments in China, but also see the Beijing Olympics as an opportunity for the government to implement greater democracy.

The business daily Handelsblatt writes:

"Probably no event has ever before been so thoroughly planned in China as the 2008 Olympics. Both the government and the Communist Party know that the Summer Games can give a new development boost not only to Beijing but to the whole of the Middle Kingdom. If China's society succeeds in presenting itself as an open and friendly host, then the benefits will make themselves clear in the form of ringing cash registers."

"But whether the People's Republic succeeds in giving itself a modern image also depends on how it behaves towards its critics. In that respect, the outlook still looks dark. Anti-AIDS activists are oppressed, the foreign press is harrassed and dissidents are banished to labor camps. The government in Beijing is making a serious mistake if it believes that it only needs to silence unpleasant journalists, people who have been forcibly resettled and dissidents in order to transmit the image of a clean China. As long as China rejects universal standards when it comes to human rights, this dream will remain unfulfilled. Seldom before has the Chinese leadership had such a large opportunity to risk implementing more democracy. It only needs to use it."

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"Despite the fact that the organizers want the Olympics to be apolitical, criticism will grow louder in the next 12 months. Bejing 2008 will be both an athletic and political event. The Chinese government itself was responsible for the excessive national ambition during the bid phase and making the pledge to better respect human rights. More than anything, though, the games will not remain apolitical because they are symptomatic of China's real dilemma. The country wants to act and be respected like a major power and it wants to be accepted in Europe and America, but without having to demonstrate any particular responsibility or political or moral superiority. But any country that travels with a checkbook to Zimbabwe, that supports a dictator who tolerates the genocide in Sudan because of his love for oil, that runs internment camps in its own country and that censors and arbitrarily detains people, can't exactly expect undivided sympathy and nor can it invoke the Olympic peace."

"Realpolitik offers China a chance to be honored for its achievements in opening up the country and implementing reforms in recent years. The country is at the helm of the Asian modernization movement and serves as a model for many of its neighbors. It is also becoming a competitor to the US in terms of its attractiveness as a business location."

"Still, the government in Beijing is obviously underestimating the political baggage that comes with these Olympics. Just as the West even today understimates China's ambitions and has no answer to its own dilemma: namely, how to exercise influence over the would-be world power. Both sides could learn a lot from each other. Let the games begin."

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Protesters are thrown in jail. Reporters are hindered from doing their work. For months the country has polemicized against minorities, including Tibetans. The Dalai Lama has been disparaged as a dangerous separatist. The 'fellow countrymen' in Taiwan are threatened again and again with war if they dare to do anything that looks like declaring independence. Is this what one should expect from a country that is just one year away from welcoming the world's best athletes to a major sporting event? The Chinese will only be satisfied with the Olympic Games if this athletic event becomes a 'Chinese championship' and if there is only positive, glossy media coverage."

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

"The main point for China in this epic production is to present an image of a modern, open country. This also provides an opportunity for the West to exert some influence on Beijing."

"Last week, China finally agreed -- after years of resistance -- to participate in a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Darfur. Pressure from Hollywood stars who threatened to boycott the 'genocide games' -- including Steven Spielberg -- has supposedly played a role. Spielberg has been hired to help produce the opening ceremonies. Fears that too much attention will also be focused on the Chinese occupation of Tibet has also led Beijing to re-open dialogue with the Dalai Lama."

"The West should use this historic opportunity, but without overplaying its hand. Closing some of the distance between the West and the Far East would be worth far more than a China that seals itself up after the games."

-- Daryl Lindsey, 3:00 p.m. CET

: Blogs discussing this story

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια: