No Demonstrations Allowed - The Intrepid

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No Demonstrations Allowed

The Chinese government set aside three areas in Beijing to be used as protest zones during the Olympics. However, none of these zones have been used. Why? Everyone who has applied for a permit has been denied or arrested. According to the Xinhua news agency, 77 people have submitted applications to protest, but none were approved.

Recently, two elderly Chinese women, Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying, were sentenced to a year of re-education through labour because of their applications. The Beijing police rejected Dianyuan and Xiuying applications five times before they were charged with “disturbing the public order.” Dianyuan and Xiuying’s homes were demolished and they wanted to protest what they felt was inadequate government compensation. While it is unlikely that Dianyuan and Xiuying will have to toil as hard labourers, they will most likely be sent to a farm or a factory to reflect on their dissention.

The Olympics are a source of prestige. The Chinese government wanted the Olympic to show the world the new China of the 21st century. However, China’s human rights abuses will continue to deny the Chinese leadership the prestige they feel the country deserves. The Chinese government may have felt that any protests would hinder the party to mark the country’s reemergence on the world stage. However, the inability to protest has been what has hurt China’s image the most.

China has become a political and economic juggernaut. China’s remarkable transformation over the last few decades has earned the country a great deal of respect. However, the Chinese government needs to make further inroads in regards to human rights to fully join the international community. The Olympics would have been a fantastic venue for China to improve its Human Rights record. Sadly, it appears that little has been done with this tremendous opportunity.