On July 19, the Washington Post Foreign Service published an article about China’s preparations for the Olympic Games. For a glimpse of the continued communist-style repression in that huge country, we offer part of an article written from Yengisharar in the far-western Xinjiang region of the vast nation:
Shortly after dawn on July 9, the local government here bused several thousand students and office workers into a public square and lined them up in front of a vocational school. As the spectators watched, witnesses said, three prisoners were brought out. Then, an execution squad fired rifles at the three point-blank, killing them on the spot. The young men had been convicted of having connections to terrorist plots, which authorities said were part of a campaign aimed at disrupting the Olympics by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an underground separatist organization [that has] long fought for independence on behalf of the Muslim Uighur inhabitants.
As preparations for the Olympics intensified, Chinese authorities cracked down on any possible embarrassment that could destroy the image they hope to portray of a prosperous, modern, and happy land. They don’t want the world to know them as repressive communists, only as genial sportsmen hosting the world’s premier athletes, sporting enthusiasts, journalists, and heads of state. But they have so much to cover over that they have employed typical communist-style repression to block evidence of the reality that is 21st-century China.
Especially targeted in recent years have been journalists and Internet users. On July 20, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RWB) stated, “Around 30 journalists and 50 internet users are currently detained in China, some of them since the 1980s.” The group noted that government agents block news sites, jam programming on 10 international radio stations, and severely punish critics the Beijing regime wishes to silence. A 20-year-old organization, RWB stridently opposed granting the Olympic Games to China when the award was made in 2001.
Three months prior to the 1989 massacre of student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a group of Chinese students and scholars formed Human Rights in China (HRIC) to publicize the Chinese government’s denial of basic human rights. With offices in New York, Hong Kong, and Brussels, HRIC continues to publish streams of reports about horrifying human-rights conditions in numerous parts of China. The group generates international pressure for change in that unhappy land while supporting the efforts of those seeking to end the Beijing government’s abuse of rights.
In its July 8, 2008 report, HRIC stated, “With 30 days to go before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, we are witnessing the proliferation of serious human rights abuses committed under the banner of the official ‘Olympics Stability Drive.’” Lawyers working to ease or cancel restrictions of citizen rights have seen their licenses to practice delayed or canceled. HRIC notes that a group of these legal experts was denied access to two U.S. congressmen who traveled to China in June in hopes of persuading the government to cease its oppressions. Government authorities then harassed and monitored those planning to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square slaughter. A website formed by “Tiananmen Mothers” has been blocked.
Among China’s many crimes against humanity, Amnesty International reports that Chinese authorities have regularly blocked Internet traffic, jailed journalists, and created 43 categories of persons to be barred from the Olympic Games. Amnesty International also notes that harsh repression of ethnic Uighurs in western China continues.
Severe punishment also continues to be the lot of Tibetans who speak out in support of the Dalai Lama, their god-king who fled Tibet in 1959 after China forcibly took control of their nation. Though the Dalai Lama has expressed a desire to attend the games, the Chinese regime will not allow him there. An observer of Beijing policy explained, “It’s supposed to be Hu Jintao’s Olympics but it will become the Dalai Lama’s Olympics if he attends.”
The U.S. State Department issued a 16-page report detailing oppression of religious groups that are not recognized — and therefore not controlled — by the government. Special emphasis was given to the plight of Roman Catholics loyal to the Vatican who are denied recognition because of their relationship with the Pope, considered “a foreign leader.” Several unregistered Protestant groups have seen their leaders grossly mistreated. Members and practitioners of the semi-religious Falun Gong spiritual movement are considered members of a “cult” and subjected to harassment, beatings, and imprisonment.
The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, named after China’s now-deceased but heroic Cardinal Ignatius Kung, recently reported the disappearance of two more unregistered priests who tried to attend a Catholic pilgrimage in Shanghai. They note that each of the 35 bishops of the “underground” (unregistered) Catholic Church is either in prison, unaccounted for, under house arrest, or under constant surveillance.
French journalist Guy Sorman spent the entire year of 2005 in China. In his recently published book The Empire of Lies: The Truth About China in the Twenty-First Century, he claims that China’s success is largely “a mirage.” Yes, he notes, 200 million people “increasingly enjoy a middle-class standard of living.” But the 60-million-member Communist Party “remains cruel and omnipresent.” He contends that China is a land of “political and religious oppression, censorship, entrenched rural poverty, family-planning excesses, and rampant corruption.” All of this “is just as real as economic growth in today’s China.” In chapter after chapter, he supplies evidence to back up his claims. His book’s 250 pages do not contain entertaining reading.
China continues to impose its unspeakable one-child-per-family rule across the nation. Women who violate this policy are often subjected to forced abortion. The Chinese tradition of holding male children in high esteem has also led to abortion and infanticide of girl babies so that the one child allowed by the state can be a boy. One consequence is a scarcity of women for men to marry, a condition that leads to kidnapping females from neighboring countries to meet the demand for brides.
Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of the two American visitors to China denied the ability to meet with civil rights lawyers, stated that “China today is the worst human rights violator in the world.” Noting that approximately 10 million female babies are aborted each year, he termed the crime “gendercide,” and explained that it means targeting girl babies for death. He predicted that, by 2020, approximately “40 million men in China won’t be able to find wives” because of government-mandated population control measures.
But don’t expect China’s atrocious human-rights record to be on parade during the Olympics. If any hint of that record does appear — in the form of an “illegal” demonstration perhaps — it will be despite the best efforts of communist Chinese officials to present a very different image to the world. The Dalai Lama is not welcome for a reason. And neither is Ma Ying-jeou, the democratically elected president of Taiwan, which according to China should be subjugated by the communist regime.
Those who argue that the games should not be politicized should recognize that the Chinese communists are attempting to use the games — and the world leaders who attend — for their own political objective of enhancing China’s image.
Olympics Are Always Political
China’s communists lobbied long and hard to win the 2008 games so they could project the image of a normal, hardworking, and respectable member of the world community. But using athletes to deflect attention away from tyranny isn’t a new practice. Seven decades earlier, Hitler tried to use the 1936 Berlin Games to elevate the stature of the Nazi regime. The Soviets sought to use the games in a similar way in 1980.
In the case of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, President Jimmy Carter barred U.S. athletes from participating because Soviet forces had invaded neighboring Afghanistan and were brutally suppressing resistance, terrorizing civilians, and committing an array of atrocities. One particularly horrific crime deserving note saw Soviet personnel scattering booby-trapped toys in the streets where children would pick them up and have their limbs, eyes, and faces blown away. Carter believed that saluting the Soviet leaders at the event, and having U.S. athletes compete in a Soviet arena before Soviet dignitaries, would amount to acquiescence in their crimes. A few other nations followed the U.S. lead.
In 1976, 20 African nations walked out of the Montreal Olympics in a politically motivated gesture because New Zealand, whose rugby team had recently toured apartheid South Africa, had not been expelled from the games.
Soviet leaders boycotted the Olympics until 1952, then realized how participation in the games could be used to create a more favorable image of their tyranny. In 1948, an Arab threat to boycott the games was averted when Israeli athletes were denied admission. By 1968, the USSR used its clout to force South Africa out of the games staged in Mexico. In 1976, leftist Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau used Canada’s host status to insult the anti-Communist Chinese from Taiwan.
Recalling the Past
More than six decades after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, Nazi hunters continue to search the world for former members of the Third Reich. Efraim Zuroff, an official of the Israeli-based Simon Weisenthal Center, has been scouring several South American cities looking for 94-year-old Aribet Heim, the man known as “Doctor Death” for his brutal treatment of Jewish prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp more than 60 years ago. U.S. Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman agrees with Zuroff that no crime should go unpunished.
We also agree, but we wonder about the crimes of Soviet Russia and Communist China, which, unlike those of Nazi Germany, have gone unpunished. There have been no trials of the communist mass murderers by either their fellow countrymen (which is how the matter should have been handled) or international tribunals. In fact, unrepentant communists have retained power in both Russia and China, though in the old Soviet Union they have moved away from the “communist” label.
Instead, the Soviet and Chinese communist crimes, numerically even greater than the horrors perpetrated by Hitler, Goering, and Himmler, have disappeared into a memory hole. In 1971, when communists were the concern of everyone they hadn’t yet conquered, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee issued a pair of reports chronicling the “Human Cost of Communism.” One of those reports dealt with the crimes of the Soviet Union and the other with the even worse carnage in China.
In 33 pages of gruesome statistics, The Human Cost of Soviet Communism informed readers that more than 35 million lives had been snuffed out by the Moscow-based criminal regime. With atrocities that included engineered famines, forced labor camps, systematic terror, and other forms of misery, the Bolsheviks carried out their crimes not just in Russia but in the numerous conquered nations they kept captive for decades.
The other Senate document, The Human Cost of Communism in China, detailed a horrendous list of crimes committed against the Chinese people by their communist leaders. China fell into the hands of Mao Zedong and Chou En-lai in 1949. Campaigns led by these two monsters had already killed several million before they triumphantly captured the nation. But the total number of deaths they stand accused of (as of 1971) added up to as many as 63 million.
Yet today’s leaders in both Russia and China have not even repudiated those responsible for these crimes.
Mikhail Gorbachev, greatly admired by many, was the favored disciple of the bloody-handed KGB chieftain Yuri Andropov, served as a member of the Politburo under Leonid Brezhnev, and remains a great admirer of Lenin. Gorbachev has never renounced his communist past, stating in 1990 while being hailed as the man who ended communism, “I am now, just as I’ve always been, a convinced Communist.”
As for China, the world has been encouraged to forget the Beijing regime’s many incredible horrors. The 1971 Senate document mentioned above provides evidence that the Chinese communists are the world’s greatest murderers, topping the worst bloodletters in all of history. And China still remains communist-controlled even though its leaders have been far more successful economically than any other followers of Karl Marx. The current leaders of the world’s most populous nation are the descendants of the savages who created the murderous “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution” campaigns. And they are themselves responsible for the still-existing labor camps and various forms of oppression. Like the current leaders in Moscow, the Chinese communists are favored with fawning admiration by Western dignitaries, certainly including our own government leaders.
When Nazi Germany was defeated, the surviving Nazis were removed from power and punished, and those who fled have been hunted down ever since. (In fact, not just former Nazi leaders but even ex-corporals have been hunted down.) Unlike Russia or China, Germany has truly broken with the past. You will find no huge portrait of mass-murderer Adolf Hitler in any German square. Yet you will find a huge portrait of mass-murderer Mao Zedong prominently displayed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In Moscow, Lenin’s body is still on display for veneration in Red Square, and a bronze statue honoring Soviet secret-police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky has been restored to Lubyanka Square, outside the dread headquarters of the infamous KGB.
In Germany today Hitler is reviled by the people and government alike; in Russia and China today past communist mass-murderers are still revered by the regimes in power. The Chinese regime is still officially communist, even though the totalitarian “ism” called communism has been responsible for the deaths of over 100 million innocent human beings during the last century.
It is hard to imagine that the 1972 Munich Olympic Games would have been held there if Germany had still glorified Hitler in 1972. Yet the 2008 games are being held in China despite its continued glorification of Mao.
The president of the United States will, by his presence and his silence, extend the hand of friendship and legitimacy to the Chinese communists at the Beijing Olympic Games. Americans should be outraged.