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Re: On rereading me

Posted by Beijing Man on August 25, 2008 at 16:52:23

In Reply to: Re: On rereading me posted by Activist on August 23, 2008 at 22:07:41:

Thanks Activist. Perhaps if your original post had posted a question instead of an imperative I wouldn't have reacted the way I did. For example, if you had asked something like: "what do others here think of boycotting the Olympics?" it could have started a more friendly dialogue on the effectiveness of such a strategy.

I suspect you and I are more alike than different. I admire human rights activism, though obviously we may disagree on the best methods of achieving the desired ends.

I'm a sinophile. I've always had an interest in China. I traveled there in the early 80s during the very beginning of the "open door policy" as among the first individuals (other than overseas Chinese) to travel there on a tourist visa (they first opened to tour groups only). I also lived in Beijing for a year during the mid-80s. Believe me, China has come along way in these 20 some years; so much so that I hardly recognize Beijing today, and I don't mean just all the new construction. The people are so much freer. Yes, some dissidents still get arrested, and other abuses that you've mentioned occur, but when punk bands openly criticize the government in their lyrics, and Chinese human rights lawyers are taking on the government to find justice for their clients, I have no doubt that things have and will continue to change. I don't think there was anyone 20 years ago who predicted the enormous positive changes that have taken place. Here's an interesting op-ed piece that looks at some of these changes regarding censorship

Yes, China still has a long way to go, but I haven't yet heard of a country free of human or civil rights abuses. I just don't think that boycotting and shunning is the right solution in this case. Even the Dalai Lama didn't think boycotting the Olympics was the right approach, instead opting to engage in diplomacy and dialogue, and allowing the Chinese government to "save face".

When I was there in the mid-80s, I was often the first foreign person many people I encountered had met. There was a general thirst for knowledge of the outside world, as they newly emerged from a closed society. Contact with foreigners is one sure way of changing China (not necessarily for the better - remember the Opium war and imperialist foreign control) and personally I think any kind of boycott, economical or political, will backfire when it comes to China.