Insightful editorial from the Sydney Morning Herald, discussing the issue of Tibet, China, and the Olympics.
The recent demonstrations in support of Tibetan independence have been a carefully co-ordinated boutique public relations operation rather than an outbreak of mass demonstrations.
Video records of demonstrations in Tibet show an ugly, racist side to the unrest as ethnic Tibetans (but not monks) kicked, beat and stabbed Han Chinese, along with the ransacking and looting of Han-owned businesses. The Government had no choice but to intervene with force.
China has a long history of civil war. For more than a millennium, it has lived under a sequence of dictatorships, absolute monarchies and uncompromising feudalism. To move so vast a culture so quickly has required the Government to retain a firm grip on the centrifugal forces that could tear the country asunder.
The idea that China can simply jump from ingrained feudalism to a plural democracy in a single generation cannot coexist with the real world.
It also includes details on past Olympic boycotts I wasn’t aware of.
Few Australians even know that the 1956 Games in Melbourne was boycotted by Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland over the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and by Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Cambodia over the occupation of the Suez Canal by Britain and France. In 1976, 21 African nations boycotted the Montreal Olympics because New Zealand had not been banned for playing rugby union against South Africa. In 1980 the United States and some allies boycotted the Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984 the Soviet bloc boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in retaliation for the 1980 boycott.
None was effective. None achieved more than transient symbolism. To throw the 2008 Olympics into chaos over Tibet would thus be overkill, disproportionate and counterproductive, in support of a dubious moral argument.