Changing China

Giant on the move

Mackeben rows back on robe protest

July 3, 2008

MACKEBEN OF GERMANY CELEBRATES HIS GOAL AGAINST RUSSIA AT THE WATER POLO OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFICATION …A German water polo player who had earlier this year floated the idea of his team wearing orange robes a symbolic protest at the Olympics against China’s Tibet has changed his mind, saying the Tibet issue is far too complex and that he knows too little about China to organise such a demonstration.

Soeren Mackeben, 29, told Der Spiegel news magazine this week:  “I’ve become more sceptical towards all sides in the meantime.” Mackeben had first proposed wearing the orange robes — the same colour as the Tibetan monks — in an interview in March.   

“I was asking during an interview about the events in Tibet what sort of protest I could envision and that’s when I mentioned the robes,” Mackeben said. “That naturally had quite an echo in the media. In the meantime, I’ve learned that the issue is too complex to take a clear position on it.”

Mackeben said he did not know enough about China, even after studying the issue and paying a visit to China’s ambassador to Germany in Berlin.

“I spent an hour asking the ambassador questions,” Mackeben said. “Afterwards they gave me two bags filled with books. I’ve become too sceptical to put an orange robe one. I want to concenrate on water polo. It’s going to be very difficult to get a glimpse into how China really is.”

Picture of Soeren Mackeben (R) celebrating a goal at the FINA Men’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament by Sergio Moraes.  

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