Conflict & Justice

Delicate Olympic debate

China now seems tone-deaf to how seriously its crackdown in Tibet is damaging its international image. San Francisco's torch relay was cut short because of demonstrations, and this Chinese government spokesperson spoke in practical denial. The President of the IOC was not as optimistic, and called on China to improve its human rights obligations, and even sighed when asked if it was right to award China the bid to the Olympics. Many if not most Chinese are excited about the Olympics, but also annoyed by recent foreign media coverage over the conflict in Tibet. Most Chinese are also being fed state media stories about how biased foreign reporting is. Tibet is far away for many Chinese, and many only know what the government is telling them. This government spokesperson calls the Dalai Lama a separatist and a terrorist. The Dalai Lama for his part said in Japan today he's not the devil the Chinese government thinks he is. He accepts Tibet is a part of China, he just wants it to have autonomy. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said this isn't about religion or cultural, but is about China's territorial integrity and the international community shouldn't interfere. Her tone was defensive, almost defiant. All this has made the continuing torch relay feel like an act of nationalism, rather than one of international friendliness and cooperation.

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