This one from The Council on Foreign Relations.
You’ve had first-hand experience with trying to “save the games.” You were called in to manage the Winter Games in 2002 when it was undergoing an image crisis as well as a financial crisis. What should China do to save its image before the Summer Games kick off in August?
The Olympics is a great opportunity for a nation to showcase its own culture and the beauty of its environment and the strength of its economy to the world. And this is an opportunity for China. The Olympics, of course, is about sport and about athletes. It’s not about China. And yet, in some respects, by virtue of the world coming there and China hosting the games, it’s an opportunity for China to put its best foot forward. Unfortunately, China has not done that at this stage. They’ve made great efforts in a whole series of ways—teaching people not to spit in public and not to cut in lines and so forth. Many things that they knew they wanted to improve to create a positive image.
But they did not think about the potential for the world to react negatively to their purchase of vast amounts of oil from the Sudanese and the repression of the Tibetans. And in my view, these are not issues which they should push aside, but rather are issues they should concentrate on and show that they understand the sensitivity and the importance of these issues to the world and to the interests of humanity. They should take some action—some symbolic action—that shows they are listening and they are trying to improve the relations in each of these settings. This, for instance, would mean such things as deciding to not provide military equipment and armament to the Sudanese. That would be a very powerful statement. A decision to sit down with the Dalai Lama, or some other symbolic event, would signal to the world that they, as a government, are willing to listen to the concerns of the world, and at the same time recognize the interests of their local population.
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