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Opinion

Questions, power, protests stir up China before Olympic Games

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April 23, 2008

All it took for the Olympic Games to be interesting was a little old-fashioned drama.

  Athletes will come and go, they’ll win gold and silver medals, then we move on to the next four-year event destination.

  Choosing Beijing to host the summer Olympic Games for 2008 brings some spice to the potentially dry news coverage.

  There is Tibet with The Dalai Lama stirring up international relations by meeting prime ministers and presidents here and there, pissing off China. You’ve got journalists being questioned excessively about their information gathering and are broadcasting just because they are in China. There’s New Zealand recently signing the Free Trade Agreement with China, potentially opening up more economic powers. And you have the Olympic torch relaying around the world while being protested in most of the cities it has so admirably visited.

  I’ve been on edge to see China’s next move. With a tagline like, “One World, One Dream” for the Beijing Olympics, it makes me raise a brow when I continue to learn more about another recent crackdown in Tibet, and the human rights that the People’s Republic of China continues to violate.

  The friendly Kiwis of New Zealand agreed to a no-tariff trade system with China. China gets free kiwi fruit and sheep, New Zealand gets free Fisher Price toys.

  But with Western cities like Paris, London and San Francisco displaying protests to the extent of riots, chanting and even extinguishing the sacred Olympic torch in honor of Tibetans and their peaceful leader, what does this say to our strong political leaders?

  The Dalai Lama was recently awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal, the top US civilian award, despite Chinese disapproval.

  President George W. Bush says he may still attend the Olympic Games because it is not a political event but rather a sporting event. OK, but did it occur to him that the same security guards that are protecting the Olympic torch may very well be the guards that have physically abused Tibetans?

  So you can say it’s not a political event, but it just got personal.

  Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the event, and other UN officials that have RSVP’d “will not attend due to a boycott.”

  French President Nicolas Sarkozy is still considering his attendance, while at the same time apologizing for the Paris incident in which the paraplegic torch bearer was tragically wheeling past the Eiffel Tower with an extinguished torch thanks to a protester. The people of France are urging their president to stay home August 8.

  I applaud China for making attempts at rising to economic power. However, their methods are still stuck in the Western 1970’s.  Come on China, recognize alternative sources of energy and such things as human rights, religious freedom and peace.

  I applaud Prime Minister Brown and Chancellor Merkel for standing up to China so early in the Olympic preparation. If China wants the world to believe that they are worthy to host the Olympics, they have a lot of work to do.

  Besides precious Tibet, how about freeing up the tight security on mass communications so the world can actually view the sporting event on television? 

  Teresa is a journalism major and a geography minor in her senior year. She enjoys kangaroo burgers and creating pretty maps.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.