China, the Olympics and Humans Rights

In less than a week the Games of the XXIX Olympiad will begin. While the world’s attention will be on the athletes, the competitions, and the medal count, others will be feeling the effects of an oppressive regime which has no concern for human rights.

Indeed, there will be plenty of people who will have nothing to celebrate during the 17-day event. For them it will be business as usual. These include Tibetans, the non-Han minorities, the Falun Gong sect, political dissenters, and Christians. Indeed, the Han majority does not fare much better in this one-party dictatorship, with basic human rights trampled on a daily basis.

Yet people will argue that we should leave politics out of sport, that we should not turn the Olympics into a political affair. Sorry, but it already is a political affair, and has been for quite some time now. Remember 1936? To its great shame, the International Olympic Committee has allowed the Games to be used as a political tool by totalitarian tyrants for decades. As Charles Colson explains,

“The Olympics have become inseparable from politics. Countries have used their status as Olympic hosts to secure international prestige and legitimacy – often for ill. The most notorious example was the 1936 Berlin Games. They were a ‘coming-out party’ for the Third Reich, which had already launched its war against its own Jewish population. The United States not only ignored calls for a boycott of the Games – to our eternal disgrace, we bowed to Nazi pressure and replaced two Jewish sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, with more acceptable Gentiles. While those Games are best-remembered for Jesse Owens’ one-man demolition of Nazi racial theories, his triumph was, sadly, an individual – not a national – one. Now it is China’s turn. Like Nazi Germany, China craves the respect and prestige that goes with hosting the Games.”

China should never have won the bid to become the host nation in the first place.  Columnist Andrew Bolt minces no words when he says “weasels gave the Olympics to China’s dictators”. He continues, “Why the Chinese regime wanted the world’s greatest sports festival is clear. It hasn’t spent more than $40 billion on these Games and showpiece facilities just so we can all watch some athletes running around. It instead plans to use this gigantic television stage to announce to the world the dawn of the new China Century – and to awe its subjects with the glory won by their unelected leaders, who have finally given their country a place in the sun. But why the IOC handed over the Games to this celebration of totalitarian rule, and this resentful demand for status, is less clear.”

“Sure, the IOC is now wallowing in Chinese cash. But to name Beijing as host city ran counter to the IOC charter, which insists the goal of the Games ‘is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’. Er, so that’s why the IOC weasels gave it to China? A country with no free speech, no rule of law, no free elections and a habit of sponsoring tyrants in places such as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma?”

Tiananmen Square was not all that long ago. Are the memories of the IOC so short, or so jaded? As China expert Steven Mosher says, the games will only serve to legitimise a one-party dictatorship that has a deplorable human rights record: “The Olympics is intended to be a celebration of the human spirit. But the spirit of the Chinese people, not to mention the spirit of the Tibetans and other minorities, is being crushed under the weight of an oppressive regime. We should no more celebrate the Olympics in China in 2008, than we should have celebrated the Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1936.”

He reminds us that China’s human rights record has not improved in recent years but has in fact gotten worse: “China is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world. Given the Chinese Communist Party bragging rights over the games makes a mockery of their meaning.”

Consider the treatment of Christians in China. Colson says “we Christians cannot permit the world to turn a blind eye to the persecution endured by Chinese Christians. The Rutherford Institute claims that 50 to 100 million members of the house church movement are coming under increasing pressure as the Olympics approach. Two incidents should be enough to paint a chilling picture. In April 2007, according to John Whitehead, one Chinese Christian, Liu Huiwen, ‘was arrested for distributing Christian literature to Muslims in the Gansu province. Huiwen was reportedly severely beaten . . . and sentenced to 18 months in prison’.”

“For printing Christian literature, Pastor Cai Zhuohua was tortured and imprisoned ‘in a cold and cramped cell with 27 other prisoners and forced to make soccer balls for 10-12 hours a day for the Olympic Games.’ These are not isolated instances, but part of an overall effort to squelch the house church movement. Freedom House reports instances in which the ‘buildings where unregistered congregations hold services have been demolished’ by the government.”

Instead of effectively condoning Chinese oppression, the free West should be boycotting the games. A strong stand by the West means hope for those suffering under tyranny. Colson explains, “When I was in the Soviet Union right after the fall of communism, I met with many dissidents who told me how encouraged they were when Reagan publicly repudiated the evil empire, and about how they were mistreated whenever Western diplomats legitimized the Soviet regime.”

If a million concerned citizens did not watch the games, that would hardly dent the billion-plus audience expected to view the event. But surely those considering going to China should have a last-minute rethink. Their presence in China will simply add legitimacy to this totalitarian regime.

There is a “Beijing Boycott Coalition” which has been established to oppose the Beijing Olympics. It calls on “all individuals and groups concerned about human rights, whether their issue is the suppression of journalism, the persecution of religious groups, or forced abortion” to join the coalition. For more information about the coalition, visit,21985,24109725-25717,00.html

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8 Replies to “China, the Olympics and Humans Rights”

  1. I recently went and saw the film “Salute” which was about the Australian champion sprinter Peter Norman (arguably Australia’s best short course sprinter) who stood on the medal dais, in the Mexico 1968 Olympics, next to the US sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, wearing a human rights button, as the two black men gave the black power salute.

    The salute was given to highlight the racial oppression of black communities and apartheid witnessed at that time in the United States. Sadly Peter Norman was hounded for supporting Carlos and Smith, particularly by the IOC and AOC hierarchy.

    This oppression of Norman occurred even during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where other past Aussie Olympic Heroes (ie Dawn Fraser, Betty Cuthbert) were invited to run the last segments of the torch relay and Norman was not (nor was he even invited to any official Olympic events). Tommie Smith and John Carlos also found themselves “on the outer” in the US and suffered economically as a result.

    We should honour, not forget, people like Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos who risked (and lost) so much for the cause of human rights.

    To me, the film could not come at a more important time – on the eve of the Beijing Olympics – where Olympic and Beijing authorities have been similarly complicit in their oppression of human rights.

    Andrew Dinham

  2. I too am among the many who on hearing that China was given the privillege of hosting the 2008 olympic games was shocked and disgusted. However, I have long been disillusioned with the notion that the olympic games are a place where we are all equal, respecting and honouring one another as nations! Doesn’t every nation want to be the best? Sadly we see that more and more by the insidious drug cheats. Wanting the gold at any expense!!!! The chemists I am told are needing to forecast up to 10 years ahead of new types of drugs that may be used by athletes that the testers at this time do not have the ability to discover. It can be a complex and sophisticated game! However, I have just returned from China. While I see a modern an thriving China, beautifying itself with immaculate gardens and landscaping I visited some of the poorest ethnic minorities in the nation. On a regular basis government officials visit villages to check for illegal pregnancies. Just recently two women were found, having cleverly hidden their precious cargo. One nine months the other seven. As is the routine, a syringe was inserted into their wombs via their stomach. Twenty four to forty eight hours later they go into labor. Government officials return the next day to escort them down to the local hospital where they give birth to a dead baby! How diabolical is this!! There is approximately 100 millions girls missing in China. The boy child is preferred when only one child is allowed. The ultra sound has become like the gas chamber of Nazi Germany. Next year it will be 3 decades since that evil idea was dreamed up by China’s selfish and arrogant leaders. Had they realised that 100 million men in this generation will be unable to find wives. They call them the bare branches – they will never be fruitful. Girls are being abducted from villages and neighbouring nations. Just the week before I came a girl was sold in her village to either trafficking or marriage – they are never sure, but, the police will often take bribes. Leaders of China, we are not deluded by your show, there is blood on your hands – history will reveal what you have hidden.

  3. Thanks Anon

    Obviously if you are in and out of China, you need to remain anonymous, so I will bend my rules here. And thanks for your first hand insights into the horror that is China.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. Notice how there’s no longer any media coverage of the recent Chinese earthquakes.
    Michael Watts

  5. Thanks for this article Bill. I’ve been planning for quite some time now to avoid watching this year’s games and I will be sure to put up a link to this article (as well as the boycott coalition site) elsewhere.
    James Swanson, Tennessee, USA

  6. For the governments of most countries, political, economic and social stability are paramount issues and factors to be considered in any change. Afterall we are living in a society which is changing all the time. On one extreme, as you said correctly, a certain minority groups are capitalising on their human rights to outlaw the writings of the holy Bible, their rights being conferred by the laws to be married together as husdands and wives, men and men, and women and women.On the other extreme, we have those countries whose leaders are using their power to demand total submission.
    China, as I understood it, is in trasition. In most places which I travelled in thje past 10 years, I could see economic prosperity and creation of jobs and business opportunities everywhere. I could see hopes and aspirations from all walks of life.
    I am rather impressed by the social order and security in places which I had visited. We should encouraged the Chinese government for their achievements so far and at the same time pray for the wisdom of their leaders to allow more freedom at an appropriate season and time.
    You Chew Lee

  7. My family will not be watching the Olympic Games. With its continued abuse of human rights, its one child policy (in which UNFPA is complicit), its unjust imprisonment of innocent people and its persecution of religion shows just how pathetic the IOC are in giving the Games to China in the first place.
    The $40 billion spent on the Games would have gone along way in paying better wages to factory workers and providing better working conditions for them. Provision of better housing for its people. In many parts of China sanitation does not exist. Shame on our Prime Minister for supporting and attending such an event.
    Madge Fahy

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