April 27, 2008


Chinese Clash With Protesters at Seoul Torch Rally (SANG-HUN CHOE, April 27, 2008, IHT)

Thousands of young Chinese assembled to defend their country’s troubled Olympic torch relay pushed through police lines on Sunday, some of them hurling rocks, bottled water and plastic and steel pipes at protesters demanding better treatment for North Korean refugees in China.

Two North Korean defectors living in South Korea poured paint thinner on themselves and tried to set themselves on fire in an attempt to protest what they condemned as Beijing’s inhumane crackdown of North Korean refugees, but the police stopped them, according to witnesses and the police.

The South Korean police and Chinese students also overpowered at least two other protesters who tried to impede the run along a 15-mile route through Seoul. The route was kept secret until the last minute and guarded by more than 8,300 police officers.

Doesn't South Korea have any pride?

Inflamed passions (Rowan Callick, April 26, 2008, The Australian)

THE Olympic torch relay's Journey of Harmony has become a tortuous road of angst pointing to a chasm between China's ruling Communist Party and the democratic world.

The torch has also shone a light on the rift between Beijing and its "minorities", still frustratingly fractious despite their growing material opportunities.

The intensity and passion aroused by the events in Tibet this year and the resulting furore over the relay threaten to sour the Olympic Games, which will begin in 15 weeks.

More than that, though, they throw a great question mark over the previously assumed inevitability of China's peaceful rise to superpower.

Olympic flames, then and now (Serge Schmemann, April 27, 2008, IHT)
In the end, the 1980 Games revealed a lot more about the paranoia and ruthlessness of an authoritarian state than about its skill at organizing sports competition - at least to the West.

Now, in the same way, we're learning a lot about China. And just as a lot of Russians then couldn't see a connection between their state's policies and the Games, so many Chinese today seem genuinely angry and convinced that "foreign enemies" are deliberately trying to ruin their coming-out party.

I suspect the International Olympic Committee also has not quite understood that a connection might be made between a country's human-rights record and hosting the Games.

There are limits, of course, to the parallels between the sealed military camp that was the Soviet Union 28 years ago and the wealthy, exploding China of today. But that only makes the similarities in the reactions of the two Communist parties all the more striking.

The West may see China as the economic and military powerhouse of the 21st century, where presidents and magnates seek to find a piece of the action. Yet the ruling party has remained remarkably ignorant of the rules of the open societies with which they deal, and remarkably insecure before every Tibetan or Uighur dissident, every human-rights activist and every Western critic.

A state that sentences a dissident like Hu Jia to prison for "inciting subversion of state power" by linking the Games with human rights is not a self-confident one.

Reared in a secretive, suspicious, paternalistic and highly bureaucratized culture, the Chinese Communist elite can only presume that Western elites are like them, that protests over Darfur, Tibet or the persecution of dissidents are all cynical political maneuvers.

The attacks on the torch, thus, can only be the work of "enemies." And these are everywhere.

They are -- as John McCain understands and elites like Fareed Zakaria don't -- the enemy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2008 10:27 AM
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