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China's Nightmare Olympics
Sponsors to be targeted
David Kootnikoff (kaspian)     Print Article 
Published 2008-04-25 10:40 (KST)   
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The Olympics were meant to be China's coming out party, its chance to shine and prove to all the world's naysayers that the middle kingdom could stand tall alongside other nations with its head held high in pomp and circumstance.

But all the pomp in the world can't conjure " One World, One Dream" from the ongoing mess that's been transpiring over the past four weeks. Patriots with true love for the motherland must surely be burying their heads in shame. At every turn the Chinese government's grandiose plans are unraveling like a cheap suit.

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First it was Darfur and the "Genocide Games"; then Tibet and the evil "Dalai clique"; then Beijing's failed promises about human rights reform made to win the games; and if that wasn't enough, then the jailing of Hu Jia, the human rights activist.

The latest in this ongoing parade of humiliations involves activist group "Dream for Darfur" and their pledge to target Olympic sponsors for protests starting with Coca-Cola and office supplier, Staples.

Chinese Support For Mugabe

When it looked like it couldn't get any worse, this week the Chinese government has been accused of aiding and abetting despotic Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, not by Western powers, but by Africans.

It's a tale that hangs on a certain ship and its deadly cargo -- the extraordinary case of the An Yue Jiang that was carrying Chinese weapons destined for Zimbabwe. South Africa's judicial system got involved and prohibited the arms from being transported overland to Zimbabwe after human rights groups and union workers spoke out. Before the vessel could try another route, leaders from across southern Africa, including Mozambique, Angola and Namibia, rallied against allowing the freighter to dock in any nearby port.

The ship is reportedly on its way back to China. Chinese government spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday, "The Chinese company has already decided to send the military goods back to China in the same vessel, the An Yue Jiang."

In response, Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which represents 1.9 million South African workers, said, "This is a great victory for the trade union movement in particular and civil society in general in putting its foot down and saying we will not allow weapons that could be used to kill and maim our fellow workers and Zimbabweans to be transported across South Africa."

Adding more pressure, this week EU Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso arrived in Beijing with a delegation to discuss these and other issues with the Chinese authorities. The EU has just released a report that is highly critical of China's policy in Africa. It recommends that the EU arms embargo should remain in place because some of its policies have "emboldened" repressive regimes in places such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Internal Dissent

Whether this accumulated shame will cause the Chinese Communist Party to address its dismal human rights record is doubtful. But they may have no choice. Their own people may force it upon them. There is already an organized group of Chinese intellectuals advocating a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and recommending the government change its Tibet policy.

The group has organized a petition that reads in part, "We support the Dalai Lama's appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of good will, peace and nonviolence." One of the signers, Wang Lixiong, is a prolific writer and leading analyst of Tibetan issues.

Could more dissent be in the offing?

Thumbnail courtesy http://www.bbdo.co.uk/blog/
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter David Kootnikoff

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