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Archive for the ‘Protests’ Category

Xinjiang Mosque

The Olympic torch is continuing it’s path to back to Beijing via every province in China, and the most recent legs have been passing through the country’s largest province, Xinjiang. However the atmosphere of the relay appears to have been unusually quiet, as many local people have been told to stay away. There has been little coverage of this section of the torch’s journey, but James Reynolds has blogged about it’s passage in Urumqi and Kashgar.

Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is a hugely interesting but little known part of China. You can compare the position of the local Uighur’s to their southern neighbours, the Tibetans. An ethnic minority with strong religious ties and some history of separatist sentiment, both have been at the receiving end of strong handed treatment from the Chinese government. The Muslim Uighur people and the Xinjiang deserts have not caught the international attention that the Tibetan cause has, but for good coverage of the situation there try Simon Elegant’s writing for TIME’s China blog:

The Other ‘Tibet’ – 16th April

In China’s Wild West – 17th April

The High Cost of Control – 3rd April

In order to prevent any more embarrassing protests the government has strictly controlled movement within the cities of Xinjiang that the torch has visited. As James Reynolds explains:

“The authorities here didn’t want reporters wandering away off on their own during the relay [in Kashgar]. So, just after dawn, we were all driven to the square outside the Idkah mosque for the start of the relay (to help identify us, local officials gave each of us two red stickers and politely told us to put one on our chests and one on our backs).”

Foreign journalists were not the only ones with access to see the torch limited:

“most – if not all – shops and businesses were shuttered. There were no cars on the road. Local people had been told to stay indoors.”

The Chinese authorities have managed their PR related to Xinjiang well – they have avoided much coverage of Uighur protests, and have been able to portray the Uighurs as Islamic terrorists rather than a supressed minority. Events like this torch relay do seem to undermine the positive impact that the Olympics are meant to bring, it’s certainly not evident that the 2008 Games will help the case of the Uighurs.

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Dwain Chambers Olympic AppealIn the BBC Olympic blog Adrian Warner revealed on Friday that key figures in Athens “think Dwain Chambers has a good chance of winning his drugs appeal against the British Olympic Association and making it to the Beijing Games”.

Drugs is an issue that has come to overshadow track and field athletics (amongst other sports of course), and shows little sign of disappearing. On either side of the Atlantic there are high profile stories in the news at the moment; while in the US Antonio Pettigrew (gold medalist in men’s 4x400m in Sydney) has just admitted to using performance-enahncing drugs (let’s call them PEDs), in the UK Dwain Chambers’ quest to compete in Beijing is controversial news.

The situations, for those who don’t know:

  • Having completed at the highest level for many years, and won World Championship medals, in 2003 Chambers tested positive for the anabolic steroid THG
  • As punishment Chambers was banned for 2 years by UK Athletics, banned from representing Great Britain at the Olympics, and stripped of all medals won since 2002 (whilst using PEDs)
  • Having served the two year ban (and in the mean time tried his hand at American Football and Rugby League) Chambers is now competing again, and hopes to contest his life-time Olympic ban

Last week Chambers ran 100m in 10.26 at a competition in Greece, and thus qualified to compete at the British Olympic trials in Birmingham on 11 July. Should he run the qualifying time of 10.25 (distinctly likely judging by his speed in Greece) the only thing standing between Chambers and Beijing is the UK Athletics ban, which he plans to challenge in London’s High Court.

Dwain Chambers Rugby League

If Adrian Warner is to be believed there is a good chance that Chambers will be successful.

Dwain Chambers and Seb CoeThis situation has polarised opinion, with pretty much every British athlete (past or present) asked, backing the ban and emphasising the importance of a zero-tolerance approach to PEDs. On the other hand (according to Warner) even”the former head of the World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) Dick Pound has often said that it’s hard to legally justify punishing an athlete for the same offence twice.”

Bob does have sympathy for Chambers, who has clearly been punished greatly for his mistake, and now believes that he could win an Olympic medal (though he might struggle to keep up with Usain Bolt). For any athlete, the frustration of not being able to prove themselves on the Olympic stage must be enormous – just look at what Oscar Pistorius has been going through. And his efforts to warn people away from making his mistakes should be applauded.

However, as the Olympics approach it looks only too likely that there may be more stories of athletes on PEDs beating athletes who have resisted the temptation to cheat. Will the presence of athletes like Chambers muddy these waters further…?

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Paula Radcliffe has been focussing on very little this year apart from the Beijing Olympics, particularly since missing the London Marathon with a toe injury. But now it appears that another injury may rule out her chances in China too. On Wednesday an MRI scan revealed a stress fracture in her left femur.

Paula Radcliffe with Olympic TorchRadcliffe’s chances of running in Beijing seem unclear; at one time she says she is 90-100% sure she will be there, while commentators like BBC’s Mike Costello have described these chances as ‘slim’. A case of positive mental attitude on Radcliffe’s part perhaps, but it doesn’t sound likely that she will be able to train enough to be going to the Olympics with a realistic shot of a medal.

On a personal level this is very sad news, not only was Paula Radcliffe one of Team GB’s best gold medal prospects on the track, but after the drama of the Athens Games there can be few people in the UK who did not wish her success in Beijing. It may be too early to say, but it looks like Paula Radcliffe may be joining Haile Gabreselassie on the marathon sidelines.

The Games’ organisers may also feel some sympathy for Paula, for not only was she a star-prospect for their event, but she has also been a vocal supporter of the Games, with regard to political protests and pollution.

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The latest issue of the China Review came out this week, and was predictably packed with Olympic-centric articles. One quote particularly caught Bob’s eye and had to be included here:

“Being pragmatic, people inside and outside China should look past the temporary politics, and celebrate this event as a key moment in the encounter and dialogue between the rest of the world and China. And for the best dialogues, sometimes some uncomfortable things need to be said, and learned.”

It says a lot…

This was taken from a paper by Kelly Brown called Olympic Hurdles, first presented at the University of Greenwich Business School Olympic Legacy Conference in May.

Read/download this Quarter’s China Review here. It also includes articles about the PR dilemma for the CCP surrounding the Games and the measures that Beijingers are going to, to be good hosts.

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It seems rather futile blogging about other issues in light of the fact that thousands of people still left buried by the Earthquake in Sichuan. The death toll now exceeds 12,000 and is sure to increase. The Olympics seem relatively trivial.

The New York Times (via CDT) describes how many people in China have been incensed by jubilant celebrations of the Olympics Torch relay in Fujian Province. This post has subsequently been updated with news that “Chinese officials announced that the relay will be scaled back while remaining on schedule, a nod to the thousands of victims of the earthquake”.

It also anounces that “Donation boxes will also be set up at future stops of the torch”.

If you are interested in making a donation see the information below (via TIME and Shanghiist):

“For those who are looking to contribute to current aid efforts underway, you can now donate money to the Red Cross Society of China which has formed a disaster relief working group to be dispatched to the earthquake-stricken Wenchuan County in Sichuan.

They have also published an emergency relief hotline, along with bank account information to receive donations to assist their cause:

Account name: Red Cross Society of China
开户单位:中国红十字会总会

For those who want to donate in RMB: you can send money to the RMB account at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China branch below:
人民币开户行: 中国工商银行 北京分行东四南支行
人民币账号: 0200001009014413252

For those who want to donate in foreign currency, you can send money to the foreign currency account at the CITIC Bank branch below:
外币开户行:中信银行酒仙桥支行
外币账号: 7112111482600000209

Hotline: (8610) 65139999
Online donations: Red Cross Society of China website: http://www.redcross.org.cn
Click the tab for online donations “

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Beijing Olympic Torch Comes to Everest

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher is one of a number of journalists in a heavily monitored party making their way to Everest Base Camp to see the second Olympic Torch begin its assent of the world’s highest mountain.

“The second Olympic torch is now at Base Camp ready for the climb.

“For whatever reason there is apparently still no chance of us being able to witness the start of its epic ascent.”

Preventing the Olympic torch reaching Tibet was one of the main objectives of protesters who targeted the torch’s relay around the world earlier this month. In this they have failed, but news that the Chinese will re-open dialogue with the Dalai suggests a success on the protesters part.

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The Chinese authorities released a report which seems to have indicated that they will be willing to resume communications with the Dalai Lama. Bob has waited to couple of days for more concrete news on this story, but there has been little.

One point that is worth picking out of the Chinese report that broke this news story is that one condition is that the Dalai must put a stop to “plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks” (via BBC). Is this a get out cause should there be any trouble in August in Beijing?

This may be seen as a victory by Tibetan protesters, however it comes at the same time that the Olympic flame is about to embark on it’s assent of Mount Everest; keeping the Olympic torch relay out of Tibet was one of the main objectives of the campaigners.

For more on this news Imagethief succinctly highlights the difference in reporting of this story between CNN and Xinhua (ok, it’s not hard to find differences, but it is a perfect little illustration of the great media debate surrounding the reporting of the Olympi protests) and Simon Elegant delivers a rather depressing ‘realistic’ summary of the obstacles that remain between the two sides and any meaningful progress.

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