Monday, March 31, 2008

The Olympic Torch is not for China Bashing

By: L. Ling-chi Wang & George Koo

Monday, March 31, 2008

The torch heralding the 2008 Summer Olympics will arrive April 9 in San Francisco. This is its sole stopover in North America, as it makes its way from Greece to the site of the Summer Games in Beijing, China.

The Olympic torch is a universally recognized symbol of goodwill among the peoples of the world. The goal of the global torch relay is to unite the people of the world. San Francisco has been accorded the singular honor to represent North America in welcoming this international symbol of athletic competition and excellence.

For any politician or organization to disrupt this ceremony as a way of registering a protest against China - however valid their views - is to dishonor the spirit of Olympics.

Even if the protesters succeed in using the Olympics to score political points, they will be setting a precedent and run the risk of turning this honored event into a special-issues sideshow - where promoters of every pet issue will seize the opportunity for exposure of their cause. Interest in the goals and spirit of the Olympics will fade, and the international community will be the poorer for it.

Almost any city of the world would leap at the chance to join in the celebration and participate in the Olympic torch relay. The world community would look upon San Francisco with disdain, if the torch relay celebration is hijacked by other interests.

The contrast between how the torch is received in San Francisco with how the torch is celebrated in Europe, Africa, Latin America, Australia and Asia will embarrass not just the disrupters but sully the image of San Francisco - and America.

The Olympics belong to everybody - not just China, and not just the handful of protesters. Using the Olympic torch relay as a venue to voice their protests runs the risk of damaging their causes. They may think they will get their voices heard, but the vast majority of the global audience will see only the antics of the protesters, raising doubts and questions about the legitimacy of the protest.

The protest sponsors stand to lose sympathy more than gain support.

For the Bay Area Chinese American community, the Beijing Olympics is an occasion of pride and joy: This ancient tradition of athletic competition will be held in China for the first time. We invite and welcome all residents of goodwill and fans of the Olympics to join hands in welcoming the Olympic torch as it makes its way to Beijing through San Francisco.

Let the people of San Francisco use this occasion to join hands with the world community and renew our friendship and partnership with the people of China.

L. Ling-chi Wang is a professor emeritus of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. George Koo is an international business consultant and board member of New America Media.
This article appeared on page B - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since the appearance of your article and a later one by Professor Wang, protests of the 2008 Olympics continue to escalate and more can be expected given the presence of Dalai Lama' visit in the U.S.

Phoenix TV showed a newly-filmed program two evenings ago by its very popular and well-respected program hostess, Ms Zheng Zimai, who was allowed into Lhasha wandering around the city interviewing common folks on the streets - both Tibetans and Han Chinese.

There were widespread carnages - buildings torched, shops looted and injured hospitalized. One family whose home was burned was rescued by a Tibetan old lady who disguised the couple and their children in Tibetan attire hiding them in her home.

There were about 1,000 victims left homeless being temporarily settled in a government-run shelter administered by Tibetans.

Most Tibetans interviewed (taxi drivers, waiters, street hawkers) were shocked; they themselves being victims wishing no part of the carnage which they ascribed to no more than couple hundred rioting Tibetans.

So, Dalai Lama is preaching non-violence to the West on one hand while violence was the result of his advocacy - of being the spiritual and religious leader of the Tibetans while also the head of the Tibet Government In-Exile - mixing religion with real politics - accusing China of human right abuses while speaking of compassion.

Dalai Lama is no Martin Luther King
- his action being entirely inconsistent with his preaching; thus the deceit and hypocracy.