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The 'mianji' (making face) Olympics

By Arthur Thomas - posted Monday, 28 July 2008

The recent SBS recent Insight program "Going to China" was enlightening in the individual comments and insight on the Beijing Olympics, human rights, Tibet and media freedom.

A reference by a journalist and ex competitor in comparing Tokyo, Seoul and Moscow with Beijing displayed unusual journalistic ignorance in the history, timing and events relating to these three Games and of China today. More research into the methodology and raw data preparation and (Chinese Communist Party) CCP policies may also give new insight for journalists using the well worn and questionable "400 million raised from poverty" phrase. More time may be well spent researching more reliable external sources for statistics on China and just what the poverty line is in China.

What were some of the basic reasons for granting the games to Beijing?


To improve China's shocking record on human rights?

To improve freedom of the media to report on controversial matters?

To improve China's rapidly degrading environment and shocking air pollution?

If these were the IOC's objectives, then after listening to the AOC representative's responses to imposing conditions on China to achieve these goals, it would appear that the IOC may have a credibility problem.

Why negotiate unenforceable terms and conditions?

For once, I am forced to agree with Bob Brown. While his summary and options were made with some tongue in cheek, they did make realistic comparisons when it comes to human rights.


Simon Balderstone's resort to using the flogged phrase "force for good and catalyst for change" suggests lack of insight into the real China.

The IOC proclaimed its confidence of BOCOG's (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games) compliance with the terms of the agreement following the 10th and final official meeting with the IOC Coordination Committee.

Responding to earlier concerns about freedom of movement for foreign journalists in China, the IOC claimed that the agreement would ensure foreign journalists’ freedom to report from within China's borders in accordance with a timeline of January 1, 2007 to October, 17, 2008. It later limited the terms of reference with an oblique reference "the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee will meet its promises to allow foreign media websites to broadcast live TV broadcast of events".

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About the Author

Arthur Thomas is retired. He has extensive experience in the old Soviet, the new Russia, China, Central Asia and South East Asia.

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