Sunday, March 2, 2008

良知的声音 World Reacts to Beijing Olympics (AFP)

Kai Chen on Freedom 陈凯论自由

photo: Past shame — The England football team giving Nazi salutes in Berlin in 1938/ by Daily Mail

良知的声音 World Reacts to Beijing Olympics (AFP)

New Zealand: Don’t Muzzle Our Athletes At the Beijing Olympics

Posted by chinaview on February 19, 2008

By JOHN MINTO, The Stuff, New Zealand, Monday, 18 February 2008-

It is time our sports officials gave up trying to say politics and sport do not mix.

It is precisely because they do mix that our Olympic officials are requiring New Zealand athletes at the Beijing Olympics to sign contracts by which they must “not make statements or demonstrations (whether verbally, in writing or by any act or omission) regarding political, religious or racial matters”.

This is an outrage. Why should New Zealanders’ freedom of speech be constrained when they travel to represent this country? Why should they be gagged because the host country for the Games has such little respect for human rights? Must we lower our democratic standards to the Chinese level?

Our Olympic officials say the ban has been in place for the last eight years and in any case, it is consistent with the Olympic charter. The ban attracted no controversy at the time of the last Games in Athens because the host country has an uncontroversial human rights record. But it seems clear the policy was put in place eight years ago for the very reason that Olympic officials looked ahead and saw the China human rights disaster looming.

It is a piece of verbal gymnastics for our Olympic officials to say the contract is consistent with the Olympic charter. The International Olympic Committee does not see it this way.

“Should a journalist ask an athlete a question, the athlete should respond as he or she sees fit,” says the IOC spokesperson, Giselle Davies.

Under criticism, the New Zealand Olympic Committee has begun one of those embarrassing backdowns. Instead of saying it made a mistake, NZOC communications manager Ashley Abbott is reported as saying athletes will not be muzzled. She says they will be allowed to express views on the regime in China if they want to.

“If one of our athletes were asked their feelings on an important issue, it would be absolutely their prerogative to answer as they see fit,” she says.

So why is the ban written into the athletes’ contract? The NZOC is reported as saying the contract simply offers athletes protection from comment on issues they felt would detract from their performance in Beijing. If anyone can work out what that piece of double-speak means, please let me know.

The question remains as to why athletes from around the world will be free to speak their minds, but New Zealand athletes will sign censorship contracts. Why is it that the sensitivities of the Chinese regime resonate so strongly in New Zealand? Why are we virtually alone in gagging our athletes?

It seems clear that one of the reasons is that among the crowd of countries attending the games, only New Zealand is negotiating a free-trade agreement with China.

This agreement is seen as a coup by the Clark government. It has been several years in the making, with negotiations finally ended and just a couple of months remaining while all the complex details are checked and rechecked before a classic photo opportunity is organised for Helen Clark to sign away yet more quality New Zealand jobs at the altar of the free market with the Chinese Premier.

It would be a disaster from the Government’s point of view if this went off the rails because a Kiwi athlete stirred controversy by pointing to the elephant in the room which is China’s abuse of human rights.

Politics have always mixed with sport at the Olympics. This year marks the 40th anniversary of possibly the most famous political statement made at any Games.

It was 1968 in Mexico at the height of the civil rights struggle in the United States. Black US athlete Tommie Smith won the 200m sprint in a world record time. When he stood on the winner’s podium alongside bronze medal winner John Carlos, they raised black gloved fists in a powerful symbol of resistance to racial oppression. Smith also wore a black scarf to represent black pride and black socks (no shoes) to represent the poverty of blacks in racist America. The iconic image of this brave duo will resonate down the centuries after their athletic prowess is long forgotten.

It may well be that Chinese organisations seize the opportunity, with the world spotlight on Beijing, to protest in the struggle for free speech and trade union rights.

If that happens, we should encourage our athletes to use their freedom of speech to actively support those in China who are denied the same rights. That is what we should expect a good athlete to do.

- Original report from

Ex-China basketball star says Olympics are platform for change

Posted by chinaview on February 17, 2008

AFP, Feb. 16, 2008-

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Olympians who speak freely about politics and human rights while in China for the Beijing Games may be doing their Chinese counterparts a favour, says a former national basketball team member.

“People should remind the Chinese athletes that they are being brainwashed,” said Chen Kai, a member of China’s men’s basketball team in the 1970s. “The Chinese athletes are nothing but tools and lackeys of the state.”

Chen has made trips to Taiwan and Germany in recent months to get his message across, speaking to sports associations about the ritualized conformity of China’s secretive national sports programme.

Chen, who took part in anti-government protests in Tiananmen Square, competed for China at the 1978 World Basketball Championships in Manila but missed out on the 1980 Olympics when China boycotted the Moscow Games.

He is the first Chinese athlete to give a rare glimpse into the secretive world of China’s elite athletic establishment.

“Inside China nobody knows about Tiananmen Square unless they lived through it,” Chen said. “These athletes are all too young to remember it and nobody talks about it.”

Chen has tried to use his platform as a former athlete to open dialogue on matters such as the Tiananmen Square massacre. The former officer in the People’s Liberation Army recently published a book ‘One in a Billion: Journey Toward Freedom - Story of a Pro Basketball Player in China’.

He said the latest controversy involving the British Olympic Association’s plan to prevent all British competitors from commenting on “politically sensitive issues” during the August 8-24 Beijing Games plays into the hands of China’s authoritarian regime.

“There will be huge political and financial earthquakes during the Olympics,” Chen predicted.

Chen launched the Olympic Freedom T-shirt Global Movement last summer and boasts that some of his anti-Chinese Government T-shirts have already been smuggled into mainland China.

The shirts feature the words ‘Beijing 1989 Tiananmen, Beijing 2008 Olympics’ with blood dripping from the letters. They are exactly the kind of attire that might get any athlete caught wearing one during the games, a flight on the next plane home……. (more details from AFP)

British Olympian Hits Out At China Amid Gagging Row

Posted by chinaview on February 13, 2008

AFP, Feb. 11, 2008-

LONDON (AFP) — A British Olympian called on China to do more to end the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region on Tuesday, amid a row over attempts by the British Olympic Association to gag its athletes.

Richard Vaughan, a quarter-finalist in badminton at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and currently ranked 30th in the world, said in a statement released Tuesday that it was “very difficult to keep a polite silence about a conflict that continues to cost so many lives.”

His comments came just days after the BOA backed down over its plan to prevent the country’s competitors from commenting on “politically sensitive issues” surrounding the Games in Beijing this summer.

More than 200,000 people have died from war, famine and disease, and upwards of two million have fled their homes in Darfur since ethic minority rebels began fighting against Sudan’s Arab-dominated regime in 2003.

China — Sudan’s biggest foreign trade partner which has also invested more than 400 million dollars (275 million euros) in Darfur alone — has drawn criticism from the West because of claims it was not using its influence to pressure the Khartoum government to do more to end the conflict.

“While many nations have tried to isolate Sudan by breaking economic ties, China has significantly backed the government of Sudan with trade particularly in oil,” Vaughan said in the statement released by campaigning group Crisis Action.

“It has major influence in Sudan and could help to end the suffering of millions of people affected by the conflict in the Darfur region … In the spirit of the Games, I would ask China as all nations to help Darfur, so that athletes can compete safe in the knowledge that everything is being done to stop the conflict.”

Vaughan, who is expected to be a member of Britain’s team at the Beijing Games, added that he appreciated “it’s a difficult position” for the BOA.

Crisis Action said a letter would be delivered to Chinese embassies around the world calling for action on the crisis in Darfur that has been signed by Vaughan, along with seven Nobel Peace prize winners and several other politicians and celebrities.

Beijing Olympic organisers said Monday they backed a ban on political protests by athletes attending the August 8-24 Summer Games, with organising committee spokesman Sun Weide saying all athletes were expected to follow the Olympic Charter, which outlaws political acts……. (more details from AFP)

70 Years Later, Why Do We Still Suck Up To Dictators Like Nazi: China Olympics and British Athletes

Posted by chinaview on February 12, 2008

By DAVID MELLOR, The Daily Mail, UK, Feb 9, 2008-

The British Olympic Association’s squalid attempt to suppress legitimate criticism of the Chinese regime by British athletes - revealed in today’s Mail on Sunday - is a timely wake-up call for all of us who thought sucking up to dictators was something we had left behind in the Thirties.

Perhaps Simon Clegg, the BOA chief executive who has been so vociferous in support of his wretched piece of paper, which could have been drafted by Neville Chamberlain, should pause and consider what effect kow-towing to totalitarian governments had in the run-up to the Second World War: none on the dictators, lasting shame on the appeasers.

On May 14, 1938, in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, the English football team were blackguarded by the Foreign Office and the Football Association into giving the “Heil Hitler” Nazi salute before a friendly game with Germany. It was a piece of contemptible cringing rendered even more pathetic and futile because Hitler, who hated sport, didn’t bother to turn up.

(photo: National disgrace: In a picture from a German archive never before published in Britain, the England football team give Nazi salutes in Berlin in 1938/ by the Daily Mail)

But that picture of impressionable footballers obeying orders from mutton-headed apparatchiks went round the world and became a lasting source of shame to this country. This was, after all, just weeks after Hitler had annexed Austria and came at a time when plans for the Final Solution were well advanced.

Was Hitler made more reasonable by that salute, or by the willingness of the world to offer him a massive propaganda boost two years earlier at the Berlin Olympics by turning up without a squeak of protest? Of course not, which leads to some interesting parallels with today.

In 1936, persecution of the Jews was stopped briefly, dissidents were rounded up and kept out of the way and Nazi Germany put on its best face for the Games.

And that is exactly what the Chinese are doing today. They are desperately trying to clean up Beijing and banishing dissidents - men such as 34-year-old Hi Jia, a brave campaigner for human rights who is under house arrest to ensure he doesn’t rock the boat.

And the Chinese government, rattled by the possibility of public criticism from Olympians, has been applying crude pressure to the international community to keep quiet.

“If at each Olympics people stood up and used politics to attack the host nation, where does that leave the Olympic spirit?” argued the official newspaper, The People’s Daily, last month.

This idea that to criticise totalitarianism is a breach of the Olympic spirit is as wretched a perversion of logic as even the Nazis ever attempted. But, pathetic or not, Simon Clegg seems to see it as something we shouldn’t do.

The Chinese have no right to a free ride this summer. And it isn’t just because China isn’t a democracy or that basic human rights and fundamental freedoms are denied to its citizens.

China is a menace to the civilised world for many other reasons, ranging from its support for renegade regimes such as the government of Sudan, who used Chinese weaponry to commit the Darfur massacres, to its shameless emergence as the number one polluter.

The Chinese deserve as much criticism over their contributions to global warming as over their suppression of human rights.

At the rate of more than one a week, dirty coal and lignite-fired power stations are coming on stream. Over the next 20 years, they will create as much pollution as the rest of the world has since the birth of the industrial revolution.

This is a shocking statistic worthy of condemnation anywhere and everywhere. If British athletes feel strongly about that, why shouldn’t they speak out?

Let’s take the interesting case of Zara Phillips. The Prince of Wales has made it clear in a letter to the Free Tibet campaign that he will not allow himself to be used as a propaganda pawn by the Chinese, and will not attend the Games.

If Ms Phillips were to indicate her support for her uncle’s principled stand, will Clegg really carry out his threat and send her home? If so, he might even snatch the Berk of the Year award from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Clegg claims that all he is doing is imposing the principles contained in the Olympic Charter on individual athletes. Well he would, wouldn’t he?

But he’s wrong, not least because no other major country seeks to do the same. They are content to allow their athletes as free people to make up their own minds about what they say or do. Why isn’t that good enough for the motherland of free speech?

It begs a very interesting question. Is Clegg on a frolic of his own or has he been put up to it by the Government? Is appeasement alive and well and answering to the name of Gordon Brown?

Brown, after all, has recently been in China, making ludicrous remarks about the importance of our relationship with the Chinese - and earning the opprobrium of organisations dedicated to freedom for failing to hold the Chinese to account for their appalling human-rights record.

Is this notoriously intolerant man the real reason why Clegg is ready to make a fool of himself? Brown, after all, holds the purse strings for the 2012 Olympics.

Has he told Clegg and the BOA that unless their people toe the line in China, there will be trouble over the cash? I wouldn’t put it past him, would you?

The Brown line on China - that only the trading relationship matters - is patent nonsense. Our exports to China are barely one-fifth of theirs to us, a gap that will widen as industrialisation in China gathers pace.

During his visit Brown claimed: “Tens of thousands of jobs in Britain for British workers can be created by closer co-operation between our two countries.”

Oh really? Will that many forklift-truck drivers be needed to unload Chinese goods at our ports and airports?

Far worse is the assumption that the Chinese can be allowed to dominate world trade without any attention being paid to the development of democracy or the improvement of civil rights.

No thought is being given to the negative impact an unreformed Chinese superpower will have on world stability unless economic improvements are matched by equally profound advances in democratic institutions.

And that problem goes far wider than Brown. The Americans are the worst culprits in encouraging Chinese manufacturing without insisting on anything in return. And that foolhardy desire to reward China for its many bad habits extends to the International Olympic Committee.

They gave the Games to Beijing despite that city being among the most badly polluted in the world. Will a British competitor be sent home for daring to complain about the smog?

Any intelligent athlete will have a lot to think about on that plane to Beijing. And if they choose to voice those thoughts, why shouldn’t they?

If Simon Clegg and the BOA don’t want to end up as despised as those who told our footballers to make Nazi salutes, he and his cronies should put those contracts where they belong. Down the nearest lavatory.

- Original report from Daily Mail: Shameful picture of England squad giving Nazi salute still haunts British sport. Why, 70 years later, do we still suck up to dictators?

Olympics Are Not A Reason to Ignore Tyranny: British and China

Posted by chinaview on February 10, 2008

Daily Mail, UK, Feb. 10, 2008-

It would be simpler if the Olympic Games could always be held in free countries, where athletes can concentrate solely on winning medals without drugs or cheating.

The document the British Olympic Association requires our competitors to sign is controversial only because in China a pledge of good behaviour is viewed by the BOA as a promise to keep quiet about police state repression.

It is easy to see how the BOA got into this mess. The claim that the Olympics are “non-political” has always been part of the humbug of this movement. Nobody really believes it, but as long as everyone pretends to do so, this breathtaking and inspiring festival can take place almost anywhere.

Yet even the most sport-obsessed person must surely wonder whether we are paying too high a moral price for a few weeks of splendid spectacle.

Nobody can now deny that the Berlin Olympics of 1936 strengthened and polished the revolting Nazi regime, at home and abroad.

(photo: Past shame — The England football team giving Nazi salutes in Berlin in 1938/ by Daily Mail)

More recently, Warsaw Pact nations used improper and cruel methods to prepare their athletes for Cold War Olympic contests, in the belief that victory in track and field would mean prestige for worldwide Communism.

The 1980 Moscow games encouraged Leonid Brezhnev’s Kremlin to think it could get away with its invasion of Afghanistan and cruel persecution of dissidents.

Meanwhile, the People’s Republic long ago introduced politics into the Games by pressuring the International Olympic Committee to prevent Taiwan from competing under its own flag or even its own name.

And it is clear that the Chinese Government hopes the Beijing Olympiad will help to establish the country not only as a new superpower but also as a modern and advanced nation.

Yet, while it has been only too happy to rebuild its capital and to commission an array of ultra-modern buildings intended to dazzle the world, it shows no sign of renovating its intolerant, censored single-party political system.

So any claim by China that the Olympics are non-political is absurd, dishonest and not to be taken seriously.

Because of this, British athletes who feel moved by their consciences to speak out about Tiananmen Square or Tibet should not feel bound by the BOA’s attempt to silence them.


Not so long ago it was the militant Left who quite rightly condemned apartheid South Africa for its obsession with classifying its people by race and colour. The same people, equally rightly, objected to the law poking its nose into the private lives of homosexuals, and got that nasty law repealed.

But now the same Left is in charge, it mirrors exactly the same obsessions.

Try to win a contract with the London Development Agency and you will be interrogated not only about the race of yourself and your staff but also about their sexual tastes. What if they don’t want to go public about it?

One of the best traditions of this country used to be minding your own business. It is time it was revived.

- Original report from Daily Mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...