Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama says to put boycott of Olympic opening ceremonies on the table.

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LAUREL, MD.—Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Wednesday called for President Bush to consider a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympic games if the Chinese don’t take steps on Tibet and Darfur.

Obama had been considering how to respond to the question of whether Bush should boycott the opening ceremonies for several days. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said Bush should not go. The White House seems to be keeping its options open. Chicago is making a bid for the 2016 games and any kind of a boycott has the potential of eroding the city’s bid with the International Olympic committee.

Statement from Senator Obama on the Olympics: "If the Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people, then the President should boycott the opening ceremonies. As I have communicated in public and to the President, it is past time for China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people, to allow foreign journalists and diplomats access to the region, and to engage the Dalai Lama in meaningful talks about the future of Tibet. I am also deeply concerned about China's failure to support efforts to halt the genocide in Darfur. Regarding the Beijing Olympics this summer, a boycott of the opening ceremonies should be firmly on the table, but this decision should be made closer to the Games.”
Earlier on Wednesday, during a town hall meeting in Malvern, Pa., asked about what policy should be regarding the Olympic and Darfur and Sudan, Obama said “we have to take a stronger stance” when it comes to China.

“In our policy towards China, we have not been consistent enough and tough enough and pushing them to deal with Tibet properly, but also their continued support of Sudan, a country that has
been engaging in genocide against the peoples of Darfur.

We have to take a stronger stance. We have to take a stronger stance and it's got to be
more consistent over time. Let me make one last point about China, its
very hard to tell your banker that he's wrong, alright? And if we are
running huge deficits and big national debts and we're borrowing money
constantly from China, that gives us less leverage. It give us less
leverage to talk about human rights, it also is giving us less leverage
to talk about the uneven trading relationship that we have with China.
We should want to encourage trade with China , there's nothing wrong
with that and we want the standard of living of the people in China to
improve, but if they're devaluing their currency to make their goods
cheaper and our goods more expensive and we're not challenging them, if
they're stealing our intellectual property, our copyrights and we don't
say anything about it, we don't take them before the World Trade
Organization, if they're dumping cheap steel or cheap goods into this
country because they're subsidized by the Chinese government and we're
not challenging them - that's just not fair. And it's not right and it's
going to undermine our economic position over the long term.”

1 Comment

Obama is being very smart to put it on the table. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who is pandering, saying that the president shouldn't go, Obama is putting the U.S. in a position to negotiate for action by the Chinese. The Chinese government has not done anything in the human rights arena in the Sudan or in Tibet or in their own country. We can get them to demonstrate the reason the Olympics were awarded to them by using the leverage of the president's attendance at the opening ceremonies. Obama is very presidential in his response.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 9, 2008 6:16 PM.

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