Before Beijing, Bush should clarify Darfur stance

President George W. Bush ’68 must love sports. After all, he was formerly a partial owner of the Texas Rangers; and since receiving a personal invitation from Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympic Games this summer in Beijing, his interest to do so has seemed unwavering, despite the fact that at least 15 House members have actively urged him to reconsider.

“It would be clearly inappropriate for [President Bush] to attend the Olympic Games in China, given the increasingly repressive nature of that country’s government,” said the members’ organizer Rep. Mazine Waters, the Associated Press reported.

China has continued to shelter the Sudanese government during its open slaughter of Darfur. The Chinese government denounces targeted economic sanctions on Sudan, supports the country financially by purchasing its oil and supplying the majority of its weapons, and waters down, shelves or vetoes any U.N. resolution targeting the genocidal regime. At the same time, China hypocritically trumpets the slogan “One World, One Dream” apropos the Olympics.

On the other side of the globe, President Bush was one of the first major world leaders to take a public stance against Sudan, calling the violence “genocide” in 2004. He also brokered the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Southern Sudan in another effort to secure peace in the region.

Now, the man who twice led the charge towards peace and stability in Darfur may sit ringside the primary enabler of that violence. By attending the Games, Bush will inadvertently signal support for the Chinese government and a belief in the disingenuous assertions that these Olympics represent a respect for humanity and optimism.

By clarifying that his attendance of the Olympics does not indicate support or approval of actions taken by the Chinese government, Bush has the opportunity to reconcile his position on Darfur with his desire to see the Beijing Games. A public statement condemning China’s role in the genocide and promising that Darfur will remain on his agenda would send a clear message to President Hu, Darfuris and the international community that when Bush comes to China in August, medals will not matter more than human rights.

The question then becomes whether or not such a statement of condemnation would influence US-China relations. Surely, Hu will not be thrilled at Bush’s public recognition of the Chinese link between violence in Darfur to the Games. Bush, however, should not cap the discussion of China’s human-rights record to polite, private urgings.

While former suggestions from foreign powers to China that it take a new position on human rights have barely affected Chinese policy, the government of China has responded to pressures regarding the Olympics Games. When Steven Spielberg, artistic advisor for the Olympics, confronted President Hu about Darfur and ultimately resigned his position, the Chinese government publicly responded; after his letter, a special envoy was dispatched to Darfur and after his resignation, the government issued various defensive statements.

Thus far, these actions show no enthusiasm for ending the violence in Darfur, only a desire to get the world off its back. Another protest — from our president — could put the pressure right back where it needs to be. Connecting the Olympics, a symbol of national pride and global unity, to the Darfur genocide seems to be the only way to call the attention of the Chinese government.

Many have resisted the movement to pressure China, arguing that sports and politics should remain separate.

But the Olympics should embody the international unity proclaimed in its slogan. How can the Games accomplish a goal of unification when a segment of the international community is being systematically eliminated? Linking the Darfur genocide to the Beijing Olympics, which adequately taints China’s reputation in an arena that elicits incredible national pride, has inspired the only changes — though, so far, they have been modest.

Bush himself will not likely make a statement clarifying his position on the Genocide Olympics without public pressure. We can encourage him to continue his strong stance against genocide by calling for him to explain why he will attend the Olympics when doing so would symbolize such hypocrisy.

As American citizens, we can and should record our opinion and questions on the White House comment line and let our voices be heard.

Caitlin Clements is a sophomore in Calhoun College. She is co-cordinator of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND).

Comments

  • Li Z

    We should force China out of Sudan now so that when we invade Sudan there will still be some oil left.

  • Anonymous

    To me it's pretty premature to believe that the recent actions of Chinese government regarding Darfur is the responce to pressures coming from Spielburg's resignation. I admire the author's optimism but it might have just been coincidence. There might be less than 100 people in China know who Spielburg is after all…

  • Anonymous

    Targeting Beijing Olympics is just a futile plot you clueless Darfur activists schemed and it will die right after the Olympics and you would achieve nothing through your slogans and bad-mouthing, nothing! If you have any sense you should have called out US and other western powers to save Darfur. Genocide? Who killed who? It's a civil war there, and both sides are killing people (those groups supported by US and other western powers are killing people too). China is not the only player there but rather a late comer. So far, only China among 5 major powers has sent peace keeping unit there. The reason the Darfur activists like you targeted China was because you had no clue where else to turn to, and China was an easy target since it's a "communist" country … Don't deny it. Giving a bad name to Olympics is no big deal to you any way, and twisting the truth is no big deal to you either, as long as it can help you to achieve your objectives.

  • Mel

    It's important to determine how effective any sort of issue-linking will be in the first place. Although most Chinese don't have official political power, collectively the Chinese people put huge pressure on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). The most common response to issue-linking with the Olympics is normally disdain and aggressive nationalism, at times fueled by the CCP, and at other times completely out of their control. Although I believe that pressure needs to be placed on Beijing, ruining the Olympics for their citizens may only end up making us more enemies in the long run, without any appreciable gains to show for it.

  • Chris S

    Tony,

    The US and other western powers have already been endlessly "called out" to save Darfur, yet the pleas have been perpetually overlooked. Though China is not the only player there, it is the LARGEST player there. China is the largest foreign investor in Sudan. Your claim that Darfur activists have "turned" to China is completely unwarranted and untrue. During the past 10 years, China has provided Khartoum with over $10 billion in investments (both commercial and capital), as well as been a primary provider of weapons, weapons technology, and weapons engineering expertise for the regime. Now, if that is not reason enough to "turn" to China and pressure the country to make its influence a positive rather than detrimental one in the Darfur region, than I don't know what is. Also, you should look up the definitions of civil war and genocide before you try to claim what is truly going on in Darfur.

  • Anonymous

    "Though China is not the only player there, it is the LARGEST player there. China is the largest foreign investor in Sudan … During the past 10 years, China has provided Khartoum with over $10 billion in investments (both commercial and capital), as well as been a primary provider of weapons, weapons technology, and weapons engineering expertise for the regime"?

    --

    About the weapons export to Sudan by China, you should not take those accusations by some human rights groups easily or make those on your own without facts to back it up. Oh, I forgot, you heard those from the western media, so they must be truth, you probably think so?

    Here is the Chinese version of this weapons export to Sudan thing. Just to let you know that there is a different version out there. When China says the accusations by you and other human rights groups are groundless, … mmmmmmmm, it could be true.
    "
    The accusation by some countries about China's arms sales to Sudan fuelling the conflict is groundless, said Liu Guijin, special representative of the Chinese government on the Darfur issue on Friday.

    Liu told a press conference that among a total of seven countries exporting arms to Sudan, China only accounted for 8 percent of the country's arms imports in 2006. US, Russia and UK were the biggest arms exporters to the developing nations, including Sudan.

    In addition, he said the United Nations and the international community had not yet exerted arms embargo or regulations on Sudan.

    As the third largest African producer of conventional weapons and ammunition, Sudan was capable of making a large part of the weapons and ammunition it needs, he noted.

    Liu said China never sold arms to any non-state entity, and it limited the functions and numbers of arms export to other countries; All export arms had user certificates and could not be exported to the third country.

    According to figures released by the US Congressional Research Service in September 2007, the United States remained the world's largest seller of conventional arms to developing countries in 2006, with 36 percent of the total.

    It was followed by Russia with 28 percent, Britain 11 percent, Germany 6 percent and China, only 3 percent, said Liu.
    "

  • Tony Su

    To the dear "Tony S" above,

    Please stop using my name to publish YDN comments. If we happen to bear the same name, add me on facebook. Using someone else's name (repeatedly) in political argument is not courageous and damages your own ethos, although we don't know who you really are.

    Geesh…

  • Anonymous

    To #7 Tony Su (Unregistered User):

    Hahaha! You have Tony Su as your name? Nice to meet you here … I don't use facebook, and I used that name for so long … guess who got this email address tonysu@yahoo.com (my garbage email collection account), you or me? So, chill out!

  • T S

    Dear dear,

    All right, so conclusions:

    If your name is as what you said, you are not a Yale student. Check that using Yale phonebook or Yale facebook. And you keep publishing comments here, from time to time refering to current Yalies' names?

    You used the name long enough? The first "Tony Su" comment appeared here, http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/comments/24045, a week ago. You registered "Tony S" on that day didn't you?

    Your garbage email collection account? Or you are afraid of using that email account to send me an email? Drop me an email at tonysu1988@hotmail.com and I'll stop accusing you.

    If you can't, be gone and be wise. I've already had a rough idea of who you are.

  • Anonymous

    What's your point? I have not seen any good point made by you except accusing me using your name, LOL! That's the weirdest thing I have heard for a long time.

    No one else than you can comment here? Only Yale students can comment here? Only Yale student can have a name as TonySu1988? BTW, that 1988 make your email account just as laughable as johndoe2103 … Probably you were born in 1988? You were too young to learn to argue except thinking your 1988 is special. Hahaha!

    You are nobody to me. If you want, just send email to me, you know my email address.