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Who are they to judge? Western leaders are using Tibet to politicise the Beijing Olympics with no regard to their own shortcomings (Michael Chugani; from SCMP Apr 01, 2008)|
What we are seeing is a ganging up of western leaders to use the unrest in Tibet to embarrass China in its proudest moment - the staging of the 2008 Olympics.
They are acting as if they are a cabal of crusading white knights whose moral duty it is to define right and wrong for others. Britain's Prince Charles tells the Tibetan freedom movement he won't attend the Olympics opening ceremony. The president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, threatens a European-Union-wide boycott of the ceremony if Beijing uses force to quell rioting mobs in Lhasa. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he, too, may not go, to protest against Beijing's behaviour.
The latest to join this circus was US President George W. Bush - the man who ordered the occupation of Iraq. Reliant on Beijing to help advance other American interests, such as reining in North Korea and Iran, Mr Bush says he'll keep his promise to attend the Olympics, but has lectured the Chinese for occupying Tibet.
Maybe it is a western fear of a rising China that explains this behaviour, or maybe it's moral outrage - something that western leaders are good at using selectively - over China's heavy-handed presence in Tibet.
If it is moral outrage, how come we are seeing so little of it in the case of Israeli heavy-handedness towards the Palestinians? If it is moral outrage, why did Mr Sarkozy just visit Britain? Isn't the United Kingdom a co-occupier in Iraq? If it is moral outrage, shouldn't Prince Charles boycott his own country's staging of the London Olympics in 2012 to protest against the Iraq invasion under false pretences?
But western leaders, when challenged on their hypocrisy, are always fond of saying the issues are not alike - the Israeli-Palestinian issue is not the same as the China-Tibet issue and the Iraq occupation is not the same as the Tibet occupation. That's like saying it is OK for Israeli troops to use force on innocent Palestinians but not for Chinese troops to use force on rioting Tibetans, and it is all right to invade Iraq to rid it of non-existent weapons of mass destruction but not to seize Tibet and claim it as part of China.
But, even if we accept that the issues are not the same, why then is the Beijing Olympics the same as the Tibet issue? Why make attendance of the Olympics ceremony dependent on China's handling of Tibet? One is a sporting event and the other a long-festering political issue.
Yet we have showbiz celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Richard Gere and Mia Farrow linking the Olympics to everything from human rights and Tibet to China's policy on Darfur. If there is fair play, when the time comes, they should be calling for a similar boycott of the London Olympics to protest against Britain's part in the invasion of Iraq, its refusal to give up its remaining colonies and its silence over America's gulag at Guantanamo Bay. But don't hold your breath.
The Olympics belongs to the athletes. Let's keep it that way.