It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Tessa Jowell, but her recent comments on the Beijing Olympics did cheer me up. As Steven Spielberg demonstrated recently, celebrities, politicians, athletes and nobel prize winners all want to influence the Chinese president into action over Darfur. China has some sort of special influence over the Sudan, and it is hoped that with the eyes of the world on China this summer, the president could be encouraged to act over the continuing atrocities in the region.
However, as with many things there are people who disagree. There are a small number of people keen to advocate a boycott of the games unless President Hu Jintao acts more decisively over the problems.
But what can this achieve? The Olympics themselves are too big for a small number of protesters staying away to really affect anything. Such protests will not even begin to concern the Chinese government, as, at least according to the official spokesperson, “people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur”. Great. Rather than trying to enlighten us, the Chinese government are happy for the world to criticise them, safe in the knowledge that they believe they are acting in a suitable manner over the problem. Which, for all we know, they might be.
Excuse me though while I remain unconvinced. A lot of people who know a lot more about it than me still seem to think that China is acting in the wrong about the problems in Darfur. China has a notorious reputation for secracy, and the western world continues to be shut out. It is because of this reason the Olympics are so important. They will, for the first time in a long time, give access to China on a world-wide scale. China will be laying itself much more open then previously, and almost certainly it will face some criticisms from prominant people around the world. But this can only be a good thing. In a world which is getting smaller with new technology, the unknown entity in Asia scares a few people. I doubt whether there is significant cause for concern, but the nature of the unknown is something which has struck fear into the hearts of mankind for centuries.
All of which leads me to agree with good old Tessa. Any proposed boycott would be unproductive, pointless and a waste of everybodys time. I say lets enjoy the Olympics in the summer, mindful of the influence China has worldwide, and let us hope that through the Olympics, pressure can be put upon China and President Hu to act more decisively over Darfur.