Using the Olympics to put pressure on China
THE ARGUMENTS FOR
China is a dictatorship with an appalling record on human rights. Steven Spielberg has set an example by withdrawing from his position as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics because of the regime's support for the genocidal government of Sudan.
The Chinese government regards the chance to host the Games as a propaganda coup. It is eager to present the best image of the regime. Therefore the Olympics offer an unprecedented opportunity to embarrass the regime and persuade it to reform in order to save face.
China is an integral and increasingly important player in the global economy. We can't afford to apply the sort of sanctions and economic boycott that helped to bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa. But we can, and should, apply moral pressure.
Sport and success in sport are now regarded as political assets, bestowing prestige on a country. So we shouldn't hesitate to use the Games as a means of exerting political leverage.THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
Sport should be kept separate from politics. To use the Games to make political points is to corrupt the Olympic spirit.
It is against our national interest to make trouble for China which is now one of our major trading partners and a country which British businesses have invested in.
It is hypocritical to call for pressure to be put on China when our stores are full of Chinese goods, and it is imports from China which have kept inflation at a low level in Britain.
Human rights in China will be best served by helping the country to become more prosperous and the regime to feel secure. Scoring points will merely fuel Chinese paranoia.
It would set a bad precedent. Critics of British foreign policy would feel entitled to use similar means to damage or disrupt the London Olympics in 2012. ·
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