Changing China

Giant on the move

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Watching human rites

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Hu Jintao and George BushIn the end they came of course. Remember all that talk about leaders boycotting the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games over China’s ties with the government of Sudan or its crackdown on Tibetan rioters?

Well, when the lavish ceremony got underway in the Bird’s Nest stadium on Friday night, some 80 leaders and royals were watching, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy who had threatened not to turn up.

The extravaganza muffled the voices of China’s critics. Three Americans staged a protest outside the stadium about an hour before it got underway, draping themselves in a Tibetan flag, but they were quickly bundled away by security forces and forgotten. Human Rights Watch put out a statement slamming China for its commercial and diplomatic ties to Myanmar’s junta on the 20th anniversary of the 8-8-88 democracy uprising that was crushed, drawing parallels with the 8-8-2008 date chosen by Beijing for the opening of the Games, but it was barely mentioned in international media reports.

There will undoubtedly be more protests and more slamming of China by rights groups between now and the closing ceremony, but the world’s attention has switched to sport.

Politics and the Olympics over the years

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WASHINGTON – The Olympics are supposed to be all about sports, not politics, right?

Wrong.

Although the Games began in 1896 with the hope that sporting events between nations could bring about a more peaceful world, they have not escaped politics.

Is China ready for the Olympics?

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Construction workers walk past the National Stadium or Bird’s Nest in BeijingHardly anyone questions whether Beijing will be ready to host the Olympics Games in August. China is determined to put on a good show, the thinking goes, so that is what the world will get. 

No expense has been spared cleaning up the sky, removing traffic jams, building state-of-the-art stadia and teaching every Beijing taxi driver to speak some English.

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