Stocks and News
Home | Week in Review Process | Terms of Use | About UsContact Us
   Articles Go Fund Me All-Species List Hot Spots Go Fund Me
Week in Review   |  Bar Chat    |  Hot Spots    |   Dr. Bortrum    |   Wall St. History
Stock and News: Hot Spots
  Search Our Archives: 
 

 

Hot Spots

http://www.gofundme.com/s3h2w8

AddThis Feed Button
   

07/24/2008

Beijing...8/8/08

In the July/August 2008 edition of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth C.
Economy, Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations, has a story titled “China’s Olympic Nightmare: What
the Games Mean for Beijing’s Future.” Ms. Economy has done
some outstanding work on China’s environmental issues, duly
quoted in these pages, but today I want to focus on her thoughts
involving the politics of the Games and Chinese nationalism. I
agree with the following, having listed the Beijing Games as a
potential flashpoint in my predictions for 2008 last December.

[Excerpts]

“Although the Chinese government excels when it comes to
infrastructure projects, its record is poor when it comes to
transparency, official accountability, and the rule of law. It has
responded clumsily to internal and external political challenges –
by initially ignoring the international community’s desire for
China to play a more active role in resolving the human rights
crisis in Darfur, arresting prominent Chinese political activists,
and cracking down violently on demonstrators. Although there
is no organized opposition unified around this set of demands,
the cacophony of voices pressuring China to change its policies
has taken much of the luster off of the Beijing Games.
Moreover, although the Communist Party has gained domestic
support from the nationalist backlash that has arisen in response
to the Tibetan protesters and their supporters in the West, it also
worries that this public anger will spin out of control, further
damaging the country’s international reputation. Already,
China’s coveted image as a responsible rising power has been
tarnished.

“For many in the international community, it has now become
impossible to separate the competing narratives of China’s awe-
inspiring development and its poor record on human rights and
the environment. It is no longer possible to discuss China’s
future without taking its internal fault lines seriously. For the
Chinese government, the stakes are huge. China’s credibility as
a global leader, its potential as a model for the developing world,
and its position as an emerging center of global business and
culture are all at risk if these political challenges cannot be
peacefully and successfully addressed .

“For months, human rights activists, democracy advocates, and
ethnic minorities in China have been pressuring the government
to demonstrate its commitment to greater political freedom. For
many of them, the Olympics highlight the yawning gap between
the very attractive face that Beijing presents to the world and the
much uglier political reality at home. Exactly one year before
the Olympics, a group of 40 prominent Chinese democracy
supporters posted an open letter online denouncing the Olympic
glitz and glamour. ‘We know too well how these glories are built
on the ruins of the lives of ordinary people, on the forced
removal of urban migrants, and on the sufferings of victims of
brutal land grabbing, forced eviction, exploitation of labor, and
arbitrary detention,’ they wrote. ‘All this violates the Olympic
spirit.’ Even Ai Weiwei, an artistic consultant for Beijing’s
signature ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, has been critical of the Chinese
government. He declared in an interview with the German
magazine Der Spiegel, ‘The government wants to use these
games to celebrate itself and its policy of opening up China By
now, it has become clear to me that this hope of liberalization
cannot be fulfilled The system won’t allow it.’

“Protests have arisen around virtually every Olympic Games in
recent history, but Beijing, with its authoritarian political system,
is uniquely threatened by dissenting voices, and it has responded
with a traditional mix of intimidation, imprisonment, and violent
repression. Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist, was
seized in March 2008, held by plainclothes police for two days,
and warned to stop writing critically about the Olympics. Yang
Chunlin, a land-rights activist, was arrested for inciting
subversion because he had gathered more than 10,000 signatures
from farmers whose property had been expropriated by officials
for development projects. After a 20-minute trial, he was
sentenced to five years in prison. In April, the HIV/AIDS
activist Hu Jia, who was also one of the authors of the open
letter, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for
subversion, after being held under house arrest for several
months along with his wife and baby daughter. Although the
vast majority of Chinese are probably unaware of these protests
and arrests, Beijing’s overreaction demonstrates how fearful the
Chinese government is that any dissent or protests could garner
broader political support and threaten the party’s authority .

“(Tensions) will run high until the end of the Games. There are
also real worries that with the spotlight focused on Beijing
during the Games, some of the opposition to the regime could
take an extreme form. For example, Chinese security forces
have expressed concern that activists from the religious
movement Falun Gong might attempt to immolate themselves in
Tiananmen Square. Because of such concerns, the 30,000
journalists covering the Games may find themselves
straitjacketed when reporting on controversial stories. And
despite recent assurances that a live feed from Beijing will be
allowed and that the Internet will be uncensored in China, the
government has yet to fulfill its promise to allow foreign
journalists unfettered access throughout the country.

“The Chinese public is already angry about what it sees as a
pervasive bias toward Tibet and disrespect of China in the
Western media. Chinese citizens are likely to view any
disturbances of the Games as an effort to embarrass the country
and undermine China’s rise. Foreign media, corporations, and
governments might all bear the brunt of the sort of nationalist
backlash that the French retailer Carrefour endured – in the form
of a consumer boycott – in the wake of the disrupted torch
ceremony in Paris.

“The combination of demonstrators desperate for the world’s
attention and the heightened nationalism of Chinese citizens
makes for an extremely combustible situation. The official
Beijing Olympic motto of ‘One World, One Dream’ suggests an
easy cosmopolitanism, but Chinese nationalist sentiment will be
running high during the Games, stoked by the heat of
competition. In the past, sporting events in China, in particular
soccer matches against Japanese teams, have led to ugly riots,
and the same could happen during the Olympics. If the Games
do not go well, there will be infighting and blame shifting within
the party’s central leadership, and it will likely adopt a bunker
mentality .

“A poor outcome for the Games could engender another round of
nationalist outbursts and Chinese citizens decrying what they see
as racism, anti-Chinese bias, and a misguided sense of Western
superiority. This inflamed form of Chinese nationalism could be
the most enduring and dangerous outcome of the protests
surrounding the Olympics. If the international community does
not welcome China’s rise, the Chinese people may ask
themselves why China should be bound by its rules. As a result,
Beijing may find the room it has for foreign policy maneuvering
more restricted by public opinion .

“Whatever the longer-term implications of the 2008 Olympics,
what has transpired thus far bears little resemblance to Beijing’s
dreams of Olympic glory. Rather than basking in the admiration
of the world, China is beset by internal protests and international
condemnation. The world is increasingly doubtful that Beijing
will reform politically and become a responsible global actor.
The Olympics were supposed to put these questions to bed, not
raise them all anew.”

Hot Spots returns next week.

Brian Trumbore


AddThis Feed Button

 

-07/24/2008-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Hot Spots

07/24/2008

Beijing...8/8/08

In the July/August 2008 edition of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth C.
Economy, Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations, has a story titled “China’s Olympic Nightmare: What
the Games Mean for Beijing’s Future.” Ms. Economy has done
some outstanding work on China’s environmental issues, duly
quoted in these pages, but today I want to focus on her thoughts
involving the politics of the Games and Chinese nationalism. I
agree with the following, having listed the Beijing Games as a
potential flashpoint in my predictions for 2008 last December.

[Excerpts]

“Although the Chinese government excels when it comes to
infrastructure projects, its record is poor when it comes to
transparency, official accountability, and the rule of law. It has
responded clumsily to internal and external political challenges –
by initially ignoring the international community’s desire for
China to play a more active role in resolving the human rights
crisis in Darfur, arresting prominent Chinese political activists,
and cracking down violently on demonstrators. Although there
is no organized opposition unified around this set of demands,
the cacophony of voices pressuring China to change its policies
has taken much of the luster off of the Beijing Games.
Moreover, although the Communist Party has gained domestic
support from the nationalist backlash that has arisen in response
to the Tibetan protesters and their supporters in the West, it also
worries that this public anger will spin out of control, further
damaging the country’s international reputation. Already,
China’s coveted image as a responsible rising power has been
tarnished.

“For many in the international community, it has now become
impossible to separate the competing narratives of China’s awe-
inspiring development and its poor record on human rights and
the environment. It is no longer possible to discuss China’s
future without taking its internal fault lines seriously. For the
Chinese government, the stakes are huge. China’s credibility as
a global leader, its potential as a model for the developing world,
and its position as an emerging center of global business and
culture are all at risk if these political challenges cannot be
peacefully and successfully addressed .

“For months, human rights activists, democracy advocates, and
ethnic minorities in China have been pressuring the government
to demonstrate its commitment to greater political freedom. For
many of them, the Olympics highlight the yawning gap between
the very attractive face that Beijing presents to the world and the
much uglier political reality at home. Exactly one year before
the Olympics, a group of 40 prominent Chinese democracy
supporters posted an open letter online denouncing the Olympic
glitz and glamour. ‘We know too well how these glories are built
on the ruins of the lives of ordinary people, on the forced
removal of urban migrants, and on the sufferings of victims of
brutal land grabbing, forced eviction, exploitation of labor, and
arbitrary detention,’ they wrote. ‘All this violates the Olympic
spirit.’ Even Ai Weiwei, an artistic consultant for Beijing’s
signature ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, has been critical of the Chinese
government. He declared in an interview with the German
magazine Der Spiegel, ‘The government wants to use these
games to celebrate itself and its policy of opening up China By
now, it has become clear to me that this hope of liberalization
cannot be fulfilled The system won’t allow it.’

“Protests have arisen around virtually every Olympic Games in
recent history, but Beijing, with its authoritarian political system,
is uniquely threatened by dissenting voices, and it has responded
with a traditional mix of intimidation, imprisonment, and violent
repression. Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist, was
seized in March 2008, held by plainclothes police for two days,
and warned to stop writing critically about the Olympics. Yang
Chunlin, a land-rights activist, was arrested for inciting
subversion because he had gathered more than 10,000 signatures
from farmers whose property had been expropriated by officials
for development projects. After a 20-minute trial, he was
sentenced to five years in prison. In April, the HIV/AIDS
activist Hu Jia, who was also one of the authors of the open
letter, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for
subversion, after being held under house arrest for several
months along with his wife and baby daughter. Although the
vast majority of Chinese are probably unaware of these protests
and arrests, Beijing’s overreaction demonstrates how fearful the
Chinese government is that any dissent or protests could garner
broader political support and threaten the party’s authority .

“(Tensions) will run high until the end of the Games. There are
also real worries that with the spotlight focused on Beijing
during the Games, some of the opposition to the regime could
take an extreme form. For example, Chinese security forces
have expressed concern that activists from the religious
movement Falun Gong might attempt to immolate themselves in
Tiananmen Square. Because of such concerns, the 30,000
journalists covering the Games may find themselves
straitjacketed when reporting on controversial stories. And
despite recent assurances that a live feed from Beijing will be
allowed and that the Internet will be uncensored in China, the
government has yet to fulfill its promise to allow foreign
journalists unfettered access throughout the country.

“The Chinese public is already angry about what it sees as a
pervasive bias toward Tibet and disrespect of China in the
Western media. Chinese citizens are likely to view any
disturbances of the Games as an effort to embarrass the country
and undermine China’s rise. Foreign media, corporations, and
governments might all bear the brunt of the sort of nationalist
backlash that the French retailer Carrefour endured – in the form
of a consumer boycott – in the wake of the disrupted torch
ceremony in Paris.

“The combination of demonstrators desperate for the world’s
attention and the heightened nationalism of Chinese citizens
makes for an extremely combustible situation. The official
Beijing Olympic motto of ‘One World, One Dream’ suggests an
easy cosmopolitanism, but Chinese nationalist sentiment will be
running high during the Games, stoked by the heat of
competition. In the past, sporting events in China, in particular
soccer matches against Japanese teams, have led to ugly riots,
and the same could happen during the Olympics. If the Games
do not go well, there will be infighting and blame shifting within
the party’s central leadership, and it will likely adopt a bunker
mentality .

“A poor outcome for the Games could engender another round of
nationalist outbursts and Chinese citizens decrying what they see
as racism, anti-Chinese bias, and a misguided sense of Western
superiority. This inflamed form of Chinese nationalism could be
the most enduring and dangerous outcome of the protests
surrounding the Olympics. If the international community does
not welcome China’s rise, the Chinese people may ask
themselves why China should be bound by its rules. As a result,
Beijing may find the room it has for foreign policy maneuvering
more restricted by public opinion .

“Whatever the longer-term implications of the 2008 Olympics,
what has transpired thus far bears little resemblance to Beijing’s
dreams of Olympic glory. Rather than basking in the admiration
of the world, China is beset by internal protests and international
condemnation. The world is increasingly doubtful that Beijing
will reform politically and become a responsible global actor.
The Olympics were supposed to put these questions to bed, not
raise them all anew.”

Hot Spots returns next week.

Brian Trumbore