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A question regarding the Tibetan uprisings, the China Olympics, and Canada

As even the Chinese government admits that the uprisings in the capital city of Tibet have spread to other provinces in the region, I have a question lingering in my head that I’ve been musing about, and I’ll throw it out there for others to comment on if they so choose.

Harper’s foreign policy has been very hawkish since he’s been in power – it imitates the US’s rather closely in that we don’t criticize our allies for democratic abuses (ie. Columbia, or tiptoeing around Mexico over the Brenda Martin affair until public pressure finally forced action), but we’re very critical of potential adversaries. China has been one of those countries Harper has been publicly tough on – asserting we won’t let trade or such stop us from speaking out on what we feel China is doing wrong or what we feel is right. One such instance was the official reception by the Canadian government of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lhama, which China bitterly protested.

Whether the overall foreign policy is right or wrong is for another blogpost. I guess my question is if we want to be consistent on that approach we’re taking right now, whether the proper Canadian government response (if the violence increases in Tibet and is brutally suppressed) is to boycott the Olympics in China. I’m not advocating it yet, (though others in the progressive blogosphere are starting to – I’ve not yet seen what our acquaintances on the Blogging Tory side are saying – though it be no surprise if there was some calls for it over there) I’m just asking if that’s the course of action this government should be taking to a) do the right thing and b) be consistent in saying it will take tough stances toward countries like China if they do something we don’t like.

4 comments to A question regarding the Tibetan uprisings, the China Olympics, and Canada

  • Ted

    I am not at all to crazy about a Olympic boycott.  If the situation gets worse perhaps we could just boycott the opening ceremonies. I do not judge a foreign policy if its with the US, the EU, the UN, or whatever. It should be in Canada’s interest, common sense dictates that we take our allies into consideration, but not necessarily always.
    What I am disappointed in is the Harper rush to recognize Kosovo. I watched the Mike Duffy interview with the Serbian Ambassador,  Duffy brought out the fact that while Harper voiced his concern about Tibet, his reaction to Kosovo’s -Albanian  destroying Serbian Monasteries and cleansing the population of Serbians was to recognize Kosovo.  Very strange. The Serbians were no angels, but neither are the Albanian Kosovos .
    The least we could have done is hold off any recognition a little longer.
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080319/serb_ambassador_080319/20080319?hub=QPeriod
    It is obvious that Harper totally ignored any advice Lewis Mackenzie may or may not have given.

  • ALW

    A very fair and interesting question.  I think the answer is obvious: whatever approach we take, we should be consistent.

     
    I am not yet sure whether we should boycott the Olympics. If Beijing continues to crack down on Tibet, a la Tienanmen Square, I think we should. But hopefully the mere threat of a boycott which would take the shine off of their crowning moment will be enough to persuade them to take a more civil tactic. For years the Chinese government has ignored criticism of its human rights record precisely because (1) it has been sporadic and vague, with no united front and (2) its economic clout made it confident no one would risk being shut out of their lucrative1.3 billion person market. But the Olympics provide a rare opportunity to force China to change its behaviour, because the Chinese have a lot more to lose than the rest of the world does if the Beijing games are tainted.The Chinese are desperately seeking respect from the rest of the world. Fear of a loss of face through an embarrassing political row which reflected on the Games may very well be enough to convince them to lay down their arms.

  • Oh, and 2 Conservative bloggers from SK have called for boycotts, and that’s just ones I’ve seen so far. Generally I think boycotts are ineffective, so I’m conflicted only on if that’s the best way to punish the IOC and China.

  • I don’t want to punish the athletes, but at this point they are pawns, and not everyone’s career can work out as they dreamed. A boycott is looking more and more likely. With Tibet and Darfur as striking modern strikes against the country, it’s plain to see that they haven’t improved on human rights as was the stated hope in giving them the games. It will be a multiple week consumer orgy, and the athletes will not be the main draw of the event anyway. Athletes aren’t even allowed to blog about the games in any meaningful way, lest they steal viewers away from corporate sponsors who paid the IOC and China to cover the sports news.

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