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Olympics 2008: Only Americans Remind China of its Responsibility for Darfur

Hosting the Olympics is a big honor for China and recognition of its rising power. Beijing would lose face, if a number of countries would boycott the games, which are supposed symbolize peace, international friendship and humanism. The Greek Fulbright Alumni even organized an international interdisciplinary conference on Humanism in Action: Olympism and the Fulbright Spirit right after the 2004 Olympics.

Does anybody really care about the humanism aspect of the Olympics? Does China deserve this honor despite its internal and external human rights violations? Who is reminding Beijing of the political responsibilities as host of the Olympic Games? German representatives do not bring up Darfur, because they are concerned about upsetting the rising superpower. Germany is more interested in trade and friendly relations with China and does not dare to play hard ball with China. Darfur activism is much stronger in the US than in Germany; not just in civil society, but also in politics:

• On June 7th, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on "Darfur and the Olympics: A Call for International Action." You can read all the Testimonies.  The committee invited Jill Savitt, Director of the Olympic Dream for Darfur Campaign, to talk about her campaign and her call for China to bring the Olympic dream to Darfur. See the video below:



• The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on China, Darfur and the Olympics on May 16th:
Whereas China is preparing to host the Olympic Summer Games of 2008, the most honorable, venerated, and prestigious international sporting event;
Whereas China should be held accountable to act consistently with the Olympic standard of preserving human dignity in Darfur, Sudan and around the world; and
Whereas China has been reluctant to use its full influence to improve the human rights situation in Darfur:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate— (...) recognizes that the spirit of the Olympics, which is to bring together nations and people from all over the world in peace, is incompatible with any actions, directly or indirectly, supporting acts of genocide.
Okay, it is a weak resolution, but it is more than what is done in Germany.

• Additionally, 108 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to President Hu Jintao of China on May 7th. Congressman Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has started the initiative and published the letter on the Committee on Foreign Affairs homepage. Quote:
President Hu, the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC. Millions of people will visit China, and over a billion people will tune into their radios and televisions to witness the expression of international peace and solidarity, through friendly competition in sports. It would be a disaster for China if the games were to be marred by protests, from concerned individuals and groups, whom will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur, if there is no significant improvement in the conditions. Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the 2008 ‘Genocide Olympics.’ As Sudan’s single largest trading partner, and the main beneficiary of their significant crude oil exports and construction contracts, we urge you to protect your country’s image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains.
An Olympic boycott (like in 1980) would drive the Chinese nuts because it would mean losing face, i.e. a huge humiliation. This will not make China more cooperative on Darfur. Thus the new Olympic Dream for Darfur campaign does not call for a boycott, but reminds China of its responsibility. Reuters:
The Olympic Dream for Darfur Campaign, spearheaded by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow, will stage an Olympic torch relay through Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia, Bosnia and other historic genocide sites to prod China to use its considerable clout with Sudan to stop the killings there.
"There is one thing that China holds more dear than its unfettered access to Sudanese oil and that is their successful staging of the 2008 Olympic Games," said Farrow. "That desire does present a point of unique leverage with a country that has thus far been impervious to criticism," she told reporters on a telephone call launching the campaign.
Hopefully, China's concern about losing face is strong enough to fear a boycott of the Olympics.
Hm, well, perhaps that is wishful thinking. Beijing is probably smart enough to realize that neither Europe nor the US cares enough about Darfur to boycott the Olympics or sanction China in any other way.
Then again,
Gareth Evans and Donald Steinberg of the International Crisis Group write about changing Chinese attitudes:
But like so much in China, attitudes toward Darfur are evolving rapidly. This is not just because of Beijing's concern about possible embarrassment at the 2008 Olympics, although this has certainly agitated policymakers. In fact, the Darfur crisis coincides with a fundamental reassessment of China's entire approach to foreign policy. Meeting regularly, as we do, with Chinese officials and foreign policy experts, we find clear signs of at least four transitions now underway.
That's good news. Let's see what happens...

Finally, check out this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: "Sudan's Enablers: Chinese oil companies fuel genocide in Darfur. It's time for Americans to divest."

Endnote: When I was searching for "China Darfur" at the German version of Google News, one of the few search results was a Sueddeutsche Zeitung interview (June 13, 2007) with Daniel Fallenstein, who works for the German Darfur NGO RettetDarfur.de and blogs at Freunde der Offenen Gesellschaft. It's all in German. For an English article by Daniel check out his op-ed "Darfur: Germans Should Get Involved" in the
Atlantic Community.

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Via Atlantic Review — who I may add is constantly proving it’s one of the most worthwhile reads on the blogosphere — comes this video. On June 7th, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on &...

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Zyme on :

"German representatives do not bring up Darfur, because they are concerned about upsetting the rising superpower. Germany is more interested in trade and friendly relations with China and does not dare to play hard ball with China." Oh come on. Maybe Germany has respect for the Chinese and does not like to openly affront them. It is not our job to expose the Chinese but to enhance our partnership. As regards the small coverage in the german media: I would say the people here are simply tired of Africa. Once they have killed themselves long enough, they eventually will come to an agreement. Just to break it a few months later and so on.

Fuchur on :

"It is not our job to expose the Chinese but to enhance our partnership." Says who? I really wonder where you get this idea from. Is there a book somewhere that tells us what's "our job"? Oh wait - there is: It's called the German Grundgesetz ("constitution"). And it for example says things like "Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar" (human dignity is untouchable"). And since starving to death or being butchered outright certainly seems like an assault on human dignity to me, it seems quite obvious to me that it is very much our job to do our best to prevent the people in Sudan from suffering - and, as a logical consequence, to turn the pressure on China.

Don S on :

Ah, but Fuchur clearly doesn't understand that being bunged up for a few years in a clime (where many Europeans once took holiday) and not being read your Miranda rights is FAR worse than gathering in a certain square and - erm, disappearing! International human rights laws are not truely universal - they apply only to one or two countries.... ;)

David on :

"Ah, but Fuchur clearly doesn't understand that being bunged up for a few years in a clime (where many Europeans once took holiday) and not being read your Miranda rights " I would say being held in a cell without charges for years is a serious violation of human rights. Believe it or not, Don, there are still a few Americans who take the constitution seriously (I know it is out of favor among many Republicans). COLIN POWELL: "Guantanamo has become a major, major problem for America's perception, as it's seen, the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo, not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I'd close it."

Don S on :

snigger! ;) Tell you what, David. I'll start taking that tacky little platic halo you wear seriosuly - when I see you advocate justice for Scooter Libby. Not before.

Kevin Sampson on :

Funny, you never had a problem with 'openly affronting' us about a whole host of things (Guantanamo, capital punishment, guns, capitalism, Kyoto, to name a few). I guess the logical conclusion is that Germany doesn't have much respect for the US. As if we didn't know. Will you be more willing to 'openly affront' China now that they are the largest source of greenhouse gas emmissions? http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-china_0621jun21,1,4330173.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed I'm betting not.

Bill on :

Good boy Jörg, this is one that I missed. I'll have to update my latest post on the subject at Jewels to include your post here. As a matter of fact I focused on the German press point-of-view toward China's loans and financial investments in Africa by highlighting a 4-page article recently published at Der Spiegel and Spiegel International. The Aegis Trust over in the U.K. just released a list of shame on the U.K.'s investments in Petrochina, CNOOC, and other PRC petrochemical giants along with the announcement of their Sudan Divestment Campaign. The "dossier" contained the names of such institutions as Barclays bank and the Church of England along with major U.K. retirement and investment funds. The Spiegel piece focuses on China's mining investments and disgraceful labor practices in Zambia and other sub-Saharan African countries. Beijing is beginning to feel the heat and it is very, very worried about the Genocide Games of 2008. BTW: Congrats on your new gig at the Atlantic Community and good luck with the new project. Nice lineup of "thinkers" at the tank. Zyme: Careful Dude, your XS/DVU roots may be showing through again. An increasingly greater number of German citizens young and old are beginning to look at Africa, Africans, and the North-South relationship with informed viewpoints that are an enourmous break with the past... a past that you so valiantly defend with statements like the one above. The German press and media over the past few months has been largely responsible for this upsurge in interest and information (BILD Zeitung excluded). Or was Germany's Chancellor Merkel and President Köhler just telling lies to the world during the G8 Summit at Heiligendamm and in Berlin at the Africa Parntership Forum?

alec on :

Joerg: I really enjoyed the post. Being in DC and involved with politics, I was a little bit surprised when I thought to myself this was the first time I had sincerely heard about Darfur in a while. I think for many the ability to address Darfur is severely debilitated by other issues that are consuming Washington's time (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian internal violence, etc.). It is a sad realization but a truthful one, that in essence the Darfur issue has become a novelty human rights issue that only occasionally is addressed when Bono or Anderson Cooper brings attention to it.

Zyme on :

My goodness, lot´s of hard feelings in here. Is there nobody with a healthy does of cynicism around? :)

Eliza on :

As the Games approach, advocates from around the world (including Germany) have an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to the Chinese government, in its role as host, to urge Beijing’s leaders to use their considerable influence with Sudan. Please visit www.dreamfordarfur to read more about China's role in Darfur. Learn how individuals can take action to encourage China to pressure Sudan to accept a robust civilian protection force in Darfur.

Bill on :

Eliza of Dream for Darfur: Many, many people around the world who are well informed about the "Crisis in Darfur" for the past 4 years now have no illusions about what the Beijing regime will and will not do with its influence over the Khartoum regime. China's interests in Sudan (and other African nations) is clear and has been for years, and the rights of the people of Darfur or of southern Sudan or Zimbabwe or the DRC or Zambia etc. etc. is not on their agenda. Period. The message to the Chinese government from people who are outraged over this crisis in Darfur and who are furious about the support & cover that China and other countries provide to President Omar al-Bashir and his Janjaweed henchmen should also be clear, unequivocally clear. The Beijing regime should be penalized in ways that they understand all too well___ loss of money and face. The upcoming Olympic Games in 2008 and the various divestment campaigns which have started in the U.S. and the U.K. and in other countries is just a drop in the bucket, but it has the nervous attention of China's politicians and business community abroad, including China's global business partners. The Chinese populace (excl. Hong Kong residents) is kept so ignorant of the situation in Darfur and their own government's complicity in the crisis that the fire has not yet begun on China's home turf. We (the "world community") should not be "pleading and begging" with the Beijing regime to stop supporting Khartoum, we should be demanding that they do so. We have very few options left to excercise influence over China's behavior in Sudan but one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal is how and where we spend our money. Boycott these Suckas!

Pat Patterson on :

Beijing should be more worried about the consequences of hosting the event rather than a boycott. Since 1980 the only two communist nations to have hosted the Olympics have, to quote Pres. Reagan, ended up on "...the ash heap of history." The costs and loss of confidence in 1980 contributed mightily to the economic problems and shaky morale that the Soviet Union never recovered from. Sarajevo hosted the Winter Games in 1984 and later hosted shooting matches between ex-members of its modern biathalon team in the three year siege that began in 1992. Besides if the US called for a boycott then support for that boycott would simply vanish. Not because the idea has no merit but rather simply reflex.

Merkel-2 on :

Darfur's problem is as what what westener media described. Sudan's civil war results from underdevelopment in some part of this country. It is by no means a racist genocide. It absolutely should not be compared with Nazi-fascist German's holocaust to Jewish people and new continent's intentionally and large scale slaughter towards native American indians, who was north American's master,now can only be founded in some desert habitant-zone for American indians . Such American Indian's cultral reservation sounds like a zoo. It's a insult to the world even surpass Great Britain 's dirty opium trade and immorally enslave African people in north America with its steadfast friend- US. These countries (like US, German ,Britain) own the world especially African people an apologize. and make remedy to promote native African people living standards instead of make a fiction of humanitarian disater. The story of Iraq strive for or have gained the mass destruction weapon ,have make most western so-called mainstream media lost its credibility . Bycotting Beijing Olimic ,Sanction on Iran are only serves such country's political and ecnomical purposes. That card will be play but will not finally put into action because of the same reason. Bargaining for trade-off is the only moral for them.

Merkel-2 on :

I can understand why Sudan people do not welcome US with their open arms. US government and their organs have such an awful records there. They bombards a Sudan plant with the excuse of anti-terrorists action,which lead to lots of civilian people 's death include woman and children. when the truth unveiled that US troops' action was based on false information, The human rights' guardian - US refused to apologize towards Sudan people . on the countrary, They cook-up lots of stories including Sudan's supporting terrorists ,Darfur's humanitarian dadisater. With the military help from the western govenment. Everyone can imagine the situation there will deteriorates . That's what the US governments needs most. that will legalize US governments' sabotage activity in Sudan. That behaviour behind the curtain is rogue-like . unfortunately the US government awards the title "rogue state" to Sudan government depending on its overwelming propaganda. TO demonize Sudan government will never make it work. Sudan native people reach wider agreements there. When they are in such solidarity ,how can US government reach its evil goal. I dare US and its media can play the old trick of invasion,because Sdan is not Iraq and people all over the world get to know that's the liar's dirty trick.

Merkel-2 on :

when the truth unveiled that US troops' action was based on false information, The human rights' guardian - US refused to apologize towards Sudan people . on the countrary, They cook-up lots of stories including Sudan's supporting terrorists ,Darfur's humanitarian dadisater. With the military help from the western govenment,the rebellion army launches a new aggression to Sudan government army. Everyone can imagine in which way the situation there evolves . How can US government sacrifice the native Sudan people's wellfare to punish Sudan government's stubborness. It leave me an impression that Chile former president pinochete's ghost was summonned there once more . maybe That's what the US governments needs most.that will legalize US governments' sabotage activity in Sudan. That behaviour behind the curtain is rogue-like . unfortunately the US government awards the title "rogue state" to Sudan government depending on its overwelming propaganda.

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