Tibet, Human Rights and the Beijing Olympics

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By Richard Baum

When the 2008 Summer Olympics were awarded to Beijing in July 2001, expectations were high that China’s desire to showcase the Beijing Games, amplified by the bright light of international scrutiny, would push the country toward political liberalization, media freedom and respect for human rights. Yet the government’s overriding short-term concern with maintaining social order and political stability during the August Olympics has resulted in a visible tightening of state media controls and Internet censorship, and stepped-up harassment of human-rights activists.

In recent months Beijing police have detained dozens, if not hundreds, of protesters, petitioners and whistle-blowers, and the Asian giant’s treatment of Tibet has become front-page news across the world. Expected to help open China up, the Olympics have paradoxically served to close China down further.

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