By the end of this summer we will all be sick of the up-close-and-personal glimpses of the wonders of China, as Olympic commentators swoon over the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. But for now, the absolutely brilliant timing of the Dalai Lama and the oppressed people of Tibet is breathtaking, and the sheer panic in the Chinese leadership is palpable.
While I have not paid much attention over the years to the Free Tibet bumper stickers that one sees only in the liberal and campus enclaves of folks looking for an offbeat cause, I may find a Free Tibet sticker now. Beijing has been rebuilding and scrubbing the city and the country for years, with the 2008 Olympics planned as the debutaunt ball of the new China. With the world watching, the Chinese debutaunte has a pimple on her face.
I was part of the battle in the 90s to maintain the Most Favored Status for China that Doug wrote about earlier this week. Our public relations firm created and represented a group called the Association of Christian Ministries in China, arguing that engagement benefited missions and allowed Christians to travel to and be witnesses in China as tentmakers. I believe this was the right strategy and that it has produced many successes.
But the huge capitalistic engine of China is still in a Communist vehicle that runs over the many people who threaten its hegemony, including the monks of Tibet.
The Christian position must be to use opporunities such as the Olympics to put pressure on the Chineses government to assure human rights and religious freedom for all of its people. I call on President Bush to follow the lead of French President Sarkozy and urge the boycotting of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which will otherwise be a public relations show for the Chinese.
My wife and I have been to Beijing twice and we came away in awe of the historic sites and the incredible remaking of the city. We heard the personal hope and promise of capitalism in the people we met; they are amazed that in the new system if you work hard you can make more money.
But a short business and tourism trip isn’t enough to see the continuing human rights violations. To hear about that we depend on the voices of the people; like the voices we have heard from Tibet this month.
Carry the Olympic torch of freedom for Tibet, and keep alive the flame of full human rights and religious freedom in China.