Join 3,500 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


And the winner of the 2000 metre evasion of a tank is....
July 13, 2001 8:01 AM   Subscribe

And the winner of the 2000 metre evasion of a tank is.... Well, you'll have to wait until 2008, when Beijing hosts the games. Maybe in seven years their human rights stance may have shifted a bit.
posted by dwivian (50 comments total)

 
IOC vice-president Dick Pound, a candidate to take over from outgoing Samaranch when the IOC votes on Monday, welcomed the decision.

I'm sure he welcomed the decision, he's Canadian. If they had of given Toronto the games, they wouldn't have given him the presidency.
posted by dave at 8:07 AM on July 13, 2001


It better have, or 2008 will go down as 1936 -- The Sequel.
posted by frednorman at 8:10 AM on July 13, 2001


China got what they wanted. I'm sure the killing, torturing, etc. will continue as scheduled.
posted by websavvy at 8:13 AM on July 13, 2001


It better have, or 2008 will go down as 1936 -- The Sequel

Which means what exactly? I keep waiting for someone to show the the link of causality that says the Berlin Olympics somehow led to the Holocaust or WWII, or whatever Tom Lantos has his knickers in a twist about. I don't buy that the 1936 Olympics lent credibility to Hitler -- he was pretty credible the day he came to power. Moreover, how does that translate into anything meaningful about China?

And it's not like this is the first time the Olympics have been given to a country that has a poor human rights record - Seoul, Moscow, and Sarajevo come to mind.
posted by briank at 8:24 AM on July 13, 2001


What's better for the people of China--tons and tons of mutual, inescapable international exposure, or a snub?

While I don't think they'll change their human-rights record for the Olympics, I do think this is a good anti-isolationist step.
posted by frykitty at 8:25 AM on July 13, 2001


IOC vice-president Dick Pound

Ironically, he shares his name with a Chinese police interrogation technique.
posted by Skot at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2001


And it's not like this is the first time the Olympics have been given to a country that has a poor human rights record - Seoul, Moscow, and Sarajevo come to mind.

And didn't they have it in Atlanta, Georgia, a while ago?
posted by Mocata at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2001


"This is incredible, ladies and gentlemen! Once again, the Human Rights world record is broken by a mile!"

I wanted Toronto.
posted by pracowity at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2001


from Canoe.ca:

"In fact, Beijing used the knock against its bid to promote its campaign, saying the Games will promote social and economic change. "

Well, I hope that's not just the PR team talking.

If this event makes things better for people in China, then they need it much more than Toronto ever did or will.

I know that's really idealist and simplistic, but what can you do with a done deal that doesn't take place for 7 more years?
posted by melissa at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2001


D'oh! Frykitty made my point much better than I did. That's what I get for actually trying to work during the day! :)
posted by melissa at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2001


Son of a bitch whore asswipes!

I really wanted Toronto to get it. Would have been the best Olympics ever.

F you China you dirty shitbirds!
posted by tweek! at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2001


mocata: your juvenile, trivializing moral equivalency comment is not appreciated.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:47 AM on July 13, 2001


Hopefully, the event can be used to pry open Chinese society and perhaps discredit the government.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2001


Snubbing hardly ever works, either it has no effect on anything or just makes the leaders angrier, which is not all that good.

Exposure on the other hand is more promising. It's just human nature, a child doesn't want to eat, the parent tells the child to eat, but he doesn't. The parent yells and screams at the child, but the child starts crying and leaves the table. Had the parent simply asked nicely and offered a reward, "eat your dinner and I'll give you desert" everything would have worked out fine.

Ok, maybe that's a bit oversimplified and really insults everyone, but it's just an example, people don't like being bossed around or excluded. Something that the US has made a policy of.
posted by tiaka at 8:49 AM on July 13, 2001


Personally, I think it is time to start preparing a call for a boycott. Yes, this early.

However, it's not like the Olympics are about competition anymore. They are about one thing: money.

Disgusting.
posted by hadashi at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2001


I don't see why people would expect that awarding the Olympics to China would facilitate any governmental or human-rights policy change.
posted by websavvy at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2001


BrianK, you should remember that Hitler came to power with a very small parliamentary mandate which he upped through intimidation, violence and vote rigging in the Reichstag.

The 1936 Olympics was a gigantic publicity rally for the Third Reich and took place three years after the infamous *Kristallnacht*. In the runup to the Berlin Olympics the *No Jews* signs were removed from public view. In much the same way as dissidents are relocated in China. No one is arguing that the 1936 Olympics caused the Holoucast and it is disingenuous to suggest so, however the 1936 Olympics legitimised Hitler in a period when his respect for the rights of neighbouring nations & his own citizens was as deplorable as that of the Chinese government.
posted by shakabu at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2001


Correction: The Kristallnacht did not take place 3 years before but 2 years AFTER the Berlin Olympics. I was referring to the Nuremberg Laws which revoked German citizenship to jews & prohibited them from intermarriage.

sorry for any confusion.
posted by shakabu at 9:01 AM on July 13, 2001


websavvy, because people will hear about the human rights violations over, and over, and over...

plus, at least they're getting rid of some of the huge polluting factories and trying to make beijing a greener and more livable city.

I'm not sure this was the right decision, but as hadashi points out, the olympics are extremely political. hopefully this will help effect some political change. (it seems unlikely that the 88 olympics had nothing to do with the changes in south korea.)
posted by rabi at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2001


People have been hearing about the human rights violations over and over and over for years already. I also don't think that the Chinese are going to "get rid of" any factories. They might move them.

They already made Beijing a greener and more livable city when the IOC came to town. They did this by dying the grass green and "relocating" the "undesirable" segments of their population far from the city.
posted by websavvy at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2001


mocata: your juvenile, trivializing moral equivalency comment is not appreciated.

Not so fast, ParisParamus. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International agree that the U.S. is far from having a clear record. There's the Death Penalty, Racism and the War on Drugs, abuse in prisons, police brutality, failure to sign the international ban on landmines, child labor, and the effects of the sanctions against Iraq, to name a few issues that are far from trivial. The UN veto didn't come out of nowhere. Alternet has more.
posted by muckster at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2001


A better, though considerably more difficult course of action than a boycott: spend the next years learning Mandarin or Cantonese (anyone know which would be the better choice?); go to the Olympics; talk to everyone you possibly can. Don't preach--just make friends. Open the floodgates of communication.

Action, not inaction. This is an opportunity.
posted by frykitty at 9:18 AM on July 13, 2001


This is an opportunity.

Completely. It was always a faƮt accompli, and now has to be handled the right way.

My first response: that it's a bunch of authoritarians rewarding another bunch of authoritarians. The IOC has its own problems of accountability and probity. 2008 may be a critical year for the Olympic movement.

My second response: China represents over 20% of the world's population, and the West still knows so little of its culture. (Name ten cities in China with a population of over one million? I couldn't, before I looked it up.) And if we spend the run-up to the games looking at the forgotten margins of Chinese culture, beyond the authoritarian government.

And this is going to be the most intense seven years of public scrutiny that the Chinese government has come under since the revolution. You can't put together an Olympics behind the smokescreen of censorship. There are too many outside interests to be satisfied. So, though you may gasp at this comment from me: the major sponsors have an incredible opportunity to show that corporate power can bring social change.

My biggest hope: that Tibet is represented in 2008 as an independent state.
posted by holgate at 9:35 AM on July 13, 2001


Mocata, your comment is appreciated.
posted by owen at 9:44 AM on July 13, 2001


I wish I shared your optimism.
posted by websavvy at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2001


I don't see why the importance of the Mclympics. It starts with the corrupt IOC (think salt lake city a few years ago), continues with television deals, and ends with compulsive athletes try to break records while the world scratches off the winning ticket from their 800+ calorie Big Mac meal.

Its a business without the pesky bothers of regulation and accountability. With a built in market of a billion or so viewers why should they and the hosting country care about anything but profits?
posted by skallas at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2001


Well, websavvy, Berlin in 1936 may have given us "The Triumph of the Will", but it also gave us Jesse Owens.

With a built in market of a billion or so viewers why should they and the hosting country care about anything but profits?

Actually, the quest for profitability was what soured much of the Atlanta games: entirely supported by private investment, you had both a logistical nightmare and a somewhat tawdry tapestry of "sponsored everything". As Sydney demonstrated, you can have a loss-making Games, but if you get the presentation right, the prestige will bring in the investment and the tourist money for years after.

(I also think that the Falung Gong movement should apply to have their exercises recognised as an Olympic sport.)
posted by holgate at 10:15 AM on July 13, 2001


Those of you with a travel bug might take this opportunity to participate in the greatest second-language-teaching campaign in the history of the world. Over the next seven years, China is going to hire English teachers at a rate surpassing anything ever seen outside of an Anglophone country. I can't find the article (grumble) but the goal is something like 10% of the population being capable of conversing in English at a comfortable level. That's 100 million students, some of whom in Beijing learn English starting at the third grade; if that's the same as the US third grade, then those eight-year-olds will be 16 when the Olympics roll around. That's a lot of English speakers, a lot of teachers, a lot of jobs. That's a lot of one-on-one relationships, and if you're serious about transmitting Western human rights values to China, this is your chance. Christian missionaries have been taking this route to spread their faiths for years. It does take a commitment. The hiring has already begun.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:33 AM on July 13, 2001


I think it's funny that paris' snide comments about the juvenility of Mocata's remark (which I wholeheartedly agree with too, and it is appreciated) came right after that lovely elementary-school level diatribe by Tweek...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2001


Muckster: Not so fast, ParisParamus. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International agree that the U.S. is far from having a clear record. There's the Death Penalty, Racism and the War on Drugs, abuse in prisons, police brutality, failure to sign the international ban on landmines, child labor, and the effects of the sanctions against Iraq, to name a few issues that are far from trivial.

Yeah, but with more than 2,300 executions this year alone, we Americans have to concede the gold medal on human rights abuses to China. With them, Libya, Sudan and the like in the finals, we don't even qualify for a bronze.
posted by darren at 10:39 AM on July 13, 2001


Thanks, darren. I was going to cite figures, but couldn't find a graceful way to do it.

There's a lot of blood on the Chinese government's hands, and this is during the period when they were trying to behave themselves for the IOC. I'm not expecting things to improve, scrutiny or not.
posted by websavvy at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2001


It's a shame that the Bush Administration did not take a tougher stance against the Chinese for their human-rights abuse. The US should, in wake of China winning bid for 2008 Olympics, discuss the following with the Chinese:

1. use of prisoners as laborers for manufacturing goods (especially shipped to the US);
2. harvesting of organs (from prisoners) for sale to highest bidders;
3. religious persecution (especially of Fulan Gong members);
4. releasing political/conscious prisoners;
5. constant threat/bullying of Taiwan;
6. freedom of Tibet/ Dealing with the Dalai Lama/Holding the world's youngest political prisoner; and
7. helping rouge nations such as Pakistan/N. Korea with their build-up of nuclear arsenal.

I still think it's a mistake to let China into the WTO, but, the business lobbying as strong as it is, $$ triumphs over democracy once again!
posted by Rastafari at 11:35 AM on July 13, 2001


Its not really the number of executions that matters its the rightful criticism that executions even take place. Even if you ignore the ethical issues the practical issues of providing a good legal defense and the number of possible innocents executed is still pretty barbaric. China is in their anti-drug anti-dissident "Hard Strike" campaign, that doesn't suddenly make the US a better place. It makes it a better place to be if you're a Chinese political prisoner.
posted by skallas at 11:39 AM on July 13, 2001


However perfect or flawed the U.S. may be, you lose all credibility in comparing it with China. By a factor of 100, I'm sure the Chinese government has murdered more people in the last year than have been executed, in the U.S. in the last 100 years. No more should be said on the subject.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:51 PM on July 13, 2001


No more should be said on the subject.


You heard him, the death penalty is OK because China isn't so OK. Thanks for the heads up.
posted by skallas at 1:18 PM on July 13, 2001


Paris - are we counting citizens or people in general. If it is the latter, then I think that the US may not be so far behind as you think. An awful lot of people have died in Central & South America/Africa/Asia as a direct result of US support for various anti-communist rebels/regimes or "resouce protection". Not to mention the genocide unleashed on the "Native Americans" in previous centuries. China may be better at killing its own citizens, but the US has China in spades when it comes to killing people in general . . .
posted by BoyWithFez at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2001


Debating who deserves supremacy in the league of human rights offenders seems to me one of the most futile arguments one could conduct. It's like arguing which of Mao, Stalin or Hitler was the most adept at genocide, as if being number two makes someone slightly more virtuous.

But to compare the US and China is a non-starter. Whatever you think of the many iniquities conducted in the name of liberty in the US, they pale into insignificance compared to those of the Chinese government.
posted by holgate at 2:14 PM on July 13, 2001


Paris, I agree with you that counting numbers on death penalty alone, as you do, there's no way the US compares to china on volume. But on human rights principle? When do the numbers make a difference? When it's 100 more? 200? 1000? Hyperbole as a rhetorical device is often used in cases like this, to remind one on the smaller end of the scale just who they're on the edge of the bed with, if not right under the covers and snuggling.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2001


Anyone else think this is the perfect time for Taiwan to declare independence? Surely China wouldn't want to take this huge propaganda and economic victory to be taken away in exchange of a small island?
posted by gyc at 3:17 PM on July 13, 2001


GYC: let them wait a little while. But I like your thinking.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2001


China may be better at killing its own citizens, but the US has China in spades when it comes to killing people in general . . .

Huh? Over 100,000,000 died in China during Mao's reign alone.

As for the Olympics somehow softening the Chinese govt., it sure didn't do much for the USSR in 1980, did it?
posted by ljromanoff at 4:25 PM on July 13, 2001


My biggest hope: that Tibet is represented in 2008 as an independent state.

That is very wishful thinking, I'm sad to say.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2001


I fear so, yes. But who'd have thought in 1983 that the Warsaw Pact would be in tatters by 1990?

That we know so little of China makes me at least preserve some hope. Although that admittedly reads like Winston Smith's "if there is hope, then it lies in the proles".

Could I correct your figures, though? Most records credit Mao with direct responsibility for between 30 and 45 million deaths from war, famine and suppression. (The link is a very thorough compilation of the different estimates on 20th century genocides.) As I said earlier, arguing numbers for genocide is essentially re-arranging the seating order in Hell. But to say that 100 million "died during Mao's reign" is like saying that tens of thousands have already "died under Bush's presidency". Even a natural death rate simply sounds horrific when factored up to the scale of the Chinese population.
posted by holgate at 4:59 PM on July 13, 2001


Mocata : What frykitty said.
Paris : "No more should be said on the subject." Was that a lame attempt at a joke? Care to justify that comment a bit? I'm curious....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2001


Of course, if you factor in the aftermath of the Mao era, the numbers don't get any better. Not only has the one-child policy led to thousands of baby girls being abandoned or even killed by their parents; you now have a generation of men who will never find wives or raise families. It's a demographic timebomb of nuclear proportions, for which the ruling cabal is wholly responsible.
posted by holgate at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2001


I'm shouldn't post before my first coffee. I meant, what muckster said. Oops.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2001


Just in case you wondered, here's what peoplesdaily.com.cn said about it.

Does anyone have any ideas why certain delegates shifted their votes from Paris on the second ballot? The Toronto-istas stayed firm on both votes...
posted by rschram at 6:21 PM on July 13, 2001


Could I correct your figures, though? Most records credit Mao with direct responsibility for between 30 and 45 million deaths from war, famine and suppression. (The link is a very thorough compilation of the different estimates on 20th century genocides.)

That's a great web site. I retract my earlier number but my point still stands.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:50 PM on July 13, 2001


Does anyone have any ideas why certain delegates shifted their votes from Paris on the second ballot?

A couple of theories just got discussed by the BBC's correspondent in Moscow: one, that Toronto wasn't going to pick up votes from many IOC delegates, to punish Dick Pound's whistle-blowing on their various perks and freebies; another, that Paris was used as a stalking horse to test the strength of a "human rights" vote, since having two consecutive Olympics in Europe would be as damaging to the IOC's internal politics as going to Beijing.
posted by holgate at 6:49 AM on July 14, 2001


So Pound didn't become IOC prez, per MeFi prediction, and Samarach played dirty with that vote too.
posted by rschram at 12:49 PM on July 17, 2001


« Older Glow in the dark toilet seats...  |  French retards can sue their b... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments