Blue Flower

Written by Ann Lau   
Oct 18, 2007 at 02:55 AM

It is important that we first have a clear understanding of this controversy.

People in China deserve Olympic Games

As the most populous nation, the Chinese people deserve to host Olympics Games.

It is important that we first have a clear understanding of this controversy.

People in China deserve Olympic Games

As the most populous nation, the Chinese people deserve to host an Olympics Games.  Nonetheless, although China desperately sought the hosting of the millennial Olympic Games of 2000, those Games were not awarded to China.  We know that it was the People's Republic of China (PRC) regime's horrific human rights violations that denied it the millennial Olympics Games. It is clear that China was only granted the 2008 Olympics Games because it promised to improve its repugnant human rights record.

Olympic Games are sports with ethical principles

The Olympics Charter states, "Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."

Accordingly, the Olympic Games are sports with ethical principles.

IOC relied upon the PRC pledge to improve human rights in China

Following China's successful bid for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee officials stated they relied upon the PRC authorities' pledged that the Beijing Olympic Games would be a catalyst for the improvement of human rights in China.

  • "By allowing Beijing to host the Games you will help the development of human rights." Liu Jingmin, Vice President of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee, April 2001.
    "It will help promote all economic and social projects and will also benefit the further development of our human rights cause." Liu Qi, the former Beijing Mayor & the current president of Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games, 13 July 2001.
    "We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve the human rights record in China", Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, April 2002.
    The Bid Committee's statement was an acknowledgement of the link between human rights and the Olympic Games. The promise of human rights improvement was therefore the expressed goal of both the Beijing Olympic Committee as well as the IOC.

The City of Pasadena should therefore look at any Olympics float in the Rose Parade as a reflection of progress made toward improved human rights. 

The PRC government's attack on lawyers

Sadly, the PRC's attack on journalists, internet writers, political dissidents are not news anymore.  A new breed of people are now under attack and they are the lawyers who defend them.

Let us take a look at Chen Guangcheng, who was named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the world's 100 most influential people.  That year, Chen heard reports that local authorities in Linyi City in Shandong Province had allegedly forced thousands of women to undergo abortions and sterilizations in an illegal effort to compel adherence to China's restrictive population control policies. Mr. Chen helped the villagers launch a lawsuit against the Linyi authorities. Authorities retaliated by subjecting Mr. Chen to arbitrary detention, beatings and intimidation. In 2006, they charged Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, with "damaging public property and gathering people to block traffic," and detained him incommunicado. In August 2006, he was convicted following a trial that lasted less than two hours.  He was denied access to his lawyers.  The human rights activist was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. 
The case of Chen Guangcheng is but one of the many cases of attacks on lawyers and human rights defenders in China.
The PRC government's efforts at controlling information

In the waning months before the 2008 Olympics, China has redoubled its efforts at suppressing any unflattering information from being disseminated outside.  From social issues to natural disasters, from poetry to food problems, no issue can avoid the censors and the public security police.

Some of the repressive actions China had taken in just July, 2007 alone are:
July 4, 2007 - China Development Brief, a newsletter based in Beijing and published by Nick Young, was ordered shut down.  The newsletter tracked issues such as AIDS and the environment and provided information for non-government non-profit groups in China to seek foreign funding for those issues.  Why the shutdown?  Those issues make the government look bad. 
July 11, 2007 - Even a website that clearly has no political agenda was shut down. The Forum of Contemporary Chinese Poetry was ordered closed.  Why?  Because the regime feared that poets can send subliminal messages through their poetry. 
July 13, 2007 - Eight members of the staff of Democracy and Legal Times, a weekly newspaper, were fired.  Among those who were fired included the publisher, the deputy editor, and a member of the editorial staff.  Why?  Among the stories recently covered by the newspaper was a report of the case of Lan Chengzhang, a journalist who was beaten to death on the orders of a mine owner.
July 16, 2007 - Cyber-dissident and pro-democracy activist Zhu Yufu was sentenced to 2 years for allegedly pushing a police officer.
July 19, 2007 - Beijing TV reporter Zi Beijia was arrested and accused of fabricating a filmed report of workers making fake buns.  According to Reporters Without Borders, "even the official news agency Xinhua acknowledged that many Beijing residents were skeptical about the findings of the police. The district where the report was filmed is known for having factories that produce imitation alcohol and food products. A journalist with the Hong Kong-based daily "Ming Pao" was threatened while trying to investigate the existence of these factories."
July 23, 2007 - Li Xing, an internet writer was arrested and charged with "disseminating false information and helping to create an atmosphere of panic" about the flooding in the northeast.
As we can clearly see, as the 2008 Olympics approaches, the government of the PRC has intensified its efforts at making sure that the world sees only the sanitized version of China acceptable to the government - what the government calls, a harmonious society.
PRC's efforts in religious persecution

August 31, 2007 -  House Church leader Zhou Heng was formally arrested for receiving 3 tons of bibles.  A fellow inmate reported that Zhou has been severely beaten by prison guards and other inmates. 

September 9, 2007 -  Msgr. Giovanni Han Dingxian, underground bishop of Yongnian died in prison.  A few hours later, his body was cremated.  Why? Perhaps to hide evidence of torture.  In 1992, Msgr. Giuseppe Fan Xueyan, underground bishop of Baoding died in prison; his body was dumped on the doorstep of his home.  There were signs of torture on his chest and face and the mark of a wire string around his neck.  Similarly, in 1992, when Msgr Liu Difen, underground bishop of Hebei, died in prison, he had holes in his back, the depth of a finger.

The persecution of Tibetan Buddhists and the Falun Gong practitioners are well documented. 

PRC's executions and organ trade

The PRC has executed more people each year than the entire world combined.  This has been fueled by the organ trade.  The wealthy nation also contributed to this problem.
In his blog, ( ) Eric De Leon recounted his experience in having a transplant in China, his wife wrote on March 15, 2006 at 11:30 p.m. "Tony shared with us that they were doing 4 liver transplants tonight and 8 kidney transplants." 

The short time that it took to find DeLeon an organ match suggested that executions in China are carried out as organs become needed.

For the Olympics, sports and politics do mix

Some may say that we should not mix sports and politics.  However, in the Olympics, sports and politics often converge.   Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics crushed Hitler's racial superiority theory.  It was a personal triumph for Owens and a political triumph for those who supported racial equality.

The Olympics opening ceremony at Berlin was a fascist fantasy came true for Hitler.  The Rose Parade float would be a similar propaganda coup for the PRC government.
Does the City of Pasadena have influence over the Tournament of Roses Association?

It was reported in the Pasadena Star News that "Bill Flinn, Chief Operating Officer of the Tournament of Roses, said earlier this month the City of Pasadena, which holds a Sister City relationship with Beijing's Xicheng District, played a significant role in bringing China into the parade."

It is clear from the report that the City of Pasadena does have influence over the Tournament of Roses Association.
Does the City of Pasadena have influence over the PRC government?

The City of Pasadena has a sister city relationship with Xicheng, a district of Beijing.  It was reported that "Bill Bogaard, mayor of Pasadena, and Yunsheng Bai, Executive Deputy Governor of Xicheng (on behalf of Governor Lin Duo) have just signed a Memo of Understanding regarding the sister city relationship on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of their sister city relationship."

The Executive Board of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) is made up of top officials in the Communist Party of China and top officials in Beijing and other cities. 

Liu Qi, President of BOCOG is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Wang Qishan, an Executive President of BOCOG  is the current Mayor of Beijing and a member of the 16th CPC Central Committee.

Liu Jingmin, an Executive Vice President of BOCOG is the Vice Mayor of Beijing.

Engaging China

We often talk about engaging China.  This should not be at the cost of ignoring China's violations of human rights.  Our engagement with China should be mutually beneficial to both peoples.  Such engagement should go beyond trade to include the rights of the citizens in their respective countries. 

Engaging China means expressing our concern for China's struggle for human rights and helping them keep their Olympics promise. 

Does pressure work?

Visual Artists Guild is a non-profit organization which champions the right of freedom of speech and expression.  Our experience in working on many cases of prisoners of conscience shows that international pressure is effective in helping China change its behavior. 

For instance, we, together with many other organizations, were successful in securing the release of human rights activist Harry Wu, the release of AIDS activist Wan Yan Hai and in securing a relatively light sentence for Singapore Strait Times journalist Ching Cheong.  We continue to work for the release of Ching Cheong.

When Mia Farrow, a Hollywood actress and a United Nations Good Will Ambassador denounced China for its support of the Sudan's government, she called the Beijing Olympics the "Genocide Olympics".   She warned director Steven Spielberg that he could "go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games," a reference to the German filmmaker who made Nazi propaganda films.  Steven Spielberg responded by writing a letter to China's President Hu.  As a result, China sent a team to Darfur.
John Kamm, Chairman of the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights organization, was at one time the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.  He was able to secure early release of prisoners of conscience through his numerous trade missions to China.  

These cases show that international pressure does work.

Appeal to the residents of Pasadena

The citizens of the City of Pasadena now have a rare opportunity to influence the behavior of China. 

We appeal to the residents of Pasadena to demonstrate to the world the core values of the City of Pasadena. 

Any association with the Beijing Olympics float of shame in the current situation will besmirch the reputation of the City.

We appeal to the residents of Pasadena to re-affirm the basic tenet of our American values in supporting those who are oppressed. 

Let the world knows that the City of Pasadena is willing to stand up for the people in China.

Let the world knows that the City of Pasadena is willing to speak for the people in China who cannot speak for themselves. 

Let the world knows that the City of Pasadena wants to help China keep its Olympic promise. 

Ann Lau,
Chair, Visual Artists Guild
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