Beijing '08: Let the Politics Begin





THE Communist Party expends much effort trying to remove politics from daily life in China, and now it wants to remove politics from the Olympics, too. Beijing Olympic officials are taking the line that political protesters agitating about China are violating the spirit and charter of the Games....

Beijing knows politics cannot really be tabled. Even before China was selected in 2001, international opinion was sharply divided between those who thought the Games could help reform the world’s largest authoritarian state and those who thought they would simply validate the regime. Politicization has only deepened in recent months with controversies over pollution and the safety of Chinese products (including some Olympic trinkets).

One historical comparison studied by the party and its critics is Seoul 1988. There the Olympics reshaped political history when public anticipation of the Games fed demonstrations that toppled an authoritarian regime and ushered in democracy....



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