Sunday, March 16, 2008

72 years later

China's crackdown in Tibet, coming in reaction to protests that began just five months before the start of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, presents an historic opportunity for the Chinese government to show what it has learned since the Tianenman Square massacre and just how serious it is about being a world power. Soldiers and police locked down the streets of Llasa, Tibet's capital, on Sunday in an effort to quell violent street protests against Chinese rule that have already resulted in as many as 40 deaths. But protests are spreading to other Tibetan cities, according to the Reuters international news service. This is the perfect time, with the world watching, for the Chinese government to do the right thing and respond peacefully and reasonably to the protesters' demands. The success of the Beijing Olympic Games depends on it. If the Chinese put down the protests brutally, like they did to pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananman Square in 1989, many countries will boycott and try to delegitimize the games — and rightly so. The nations of the world cannot afford to heap praise on and offer more stature to another brutal regime. The specter of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany still hangs over the games — and rightly so.

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