Beijing Olympics Boycott Now 'Impossible,' Chinese Activist Says

By Keriann Hopkins and Michael Gryboski | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

( - For Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, the politics of the Beijing Olympics are a "temporary issue," and efforts to boycott the Olympics are "in this moment impossible." But the eyes and ears of the world, Wu said, should still be focused on human rights abuses in Communist China.

Wu told Cybercast News Service that the Bush administration is doing the best that it can to raise the issue of human rights abuses in China, given that former President George H. W. Bush is leading the American contingent to the games.

"They knew China has a problem with human rights, problems with persecuted people," Wu said. "What else can we do? We're American; we do our job, that's it."

Wu, who spent 19 years being beaten, tortured, and starved in a Chinese prison labor camp for criticizing the Chinese Communist Party, spoke Tuesday on the politics of the upcoming Olympics, at an event hosted by the Center for National Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

He said efforts should now be directed toward keeping the world's attention focused on Chinese human rights abuses after the Olympics are over.

"In China, (a) woman, whatever her married status, (is) not free to give birth," said Wu, in reference to China's one-child policy. "You need a permit from the government, and then you can make love, and then you can have a baby. And after the first baby, that's it."

In addition to the one-child policy, Wu cited China's one-party rule, lack of freedom of the press, no freedom of association, and the "Laogai" - the system of forced-labor camps the Chinese government established to deal with dissidents.

"Even if one person (disagrees) with the government and he's put in the jail, that's no democracy," said Wu, who is president of the China Information Center. "Laogai and democracy are incompatible."

A representative from the Chinese embassy, meanwhile, was asked to speak at the event but declined, sending a note instead.

"The Chinese side is deeply concerned over the event on the so-called 'Politics of the Beijing Olympics' being held on July 1," the note read. "The Olympics is a great sports event celebrating the Olympic spirit. It should by no means be politicized. Any attempt to undermine the Olympic Games or link it to other matters will only hurt the feelings of the athletes and sports fans from around the world," it added.

But the Beijing Olympics are not the first to become mixed with politics, despite attempts to keep them separate, according to Scott Bates, vice president of the Center for National Policy.

"The Olympics have proven to be an irresistible stage for the political agendas of both governments and their detractors alike," Bates said.

He cited the deaths of Mexican students during protests at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics; the 1972 abduction and killing of nine members of the Israeli Olympic team; the 1980 U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics; the 15 nations that boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics; and the 1998 Olympics in Seoul, after which the military government was forced to step down.

Bates claimed that the "pinnacle" of mixing Olympics and politics occurred in Nazi Germany in1936 when a "totalitarian regime craving international recognition and status turned the games into a festival of propaganda and glorification of state."

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