A victory and a challenge
WW in 2001: China and the Olympic games
Published Aug 13, 2008 10:44 PM
We reprint below, as part of our archival series celebrating Workers World’s 50th year of
publication, excerpts from an article that first appeared in the July 26, 2001,
issue. It is especially appropriate in the week following the opening of the
2008 Olympics in Beijing, where the opening ceremony, broadcast to billions of
people all over the world, was such a stunning demonstration of the
technological development of the Peoples Republic of China, something that
would not have been possible without the tremendous revolution of 1949 led by
the Chinese Communist Party.
The awarding of the 2008 Summer Olympics to the People’s Republic of
China represents a victory for the Chinese people made possible only by their
1949 revolution. At the same time, this victory has evoked the fundamental
hostility of imperialism to China as a socialist country, demonstrating the
dangers and contradictions inherent in the policy of “opening up”
to the capitalist world powers.
This victory, grudgingly acceded to by Washington and the capitals of Western
Europe, is a source of great national pride for China, which was an oppressed
country just half a century ago. It was one of the poorest countries in the
world after enduring more than a century of the most degrading colonial plunder
and humiliation, from the 1840 Opium War to the Japanese occupation that ended
The People’s Liberation Army, led by the Chinese Communist Party, ended
this plunder by driving the U.S.-backed forces of Chiang Kai-shek off the
mainland to Taiwan, where they set up a haven for the defeated landlords and
capitalists under the protection of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao [Zedong] declared that “China has stood up,”
and the Chinese Revolution proceeded to expropriate the landlords and big
capitalists and set up a socialist regime. China became a sovereign,
independent country, free of imperialist domination for the first time in over
The Chinese leadership has made major concessions to imperialist corporations
and domestic capitalism, and has abandoned an internationalist,
anti-imperialist foreign policy in recent years. But China is still an
independent, sovereign, socialist country capable of resisting imperialism. For
the ruling classes of the world, it is a galling prospect to have to turn over
the Olympic stage to a government born of anti-imperialist revolution.
The Chinese government, ever since taking power, has shown its ability to
undertake vast projects when the situation called for them.
Beijing quickly won the majority in the second-round vote at the International
Olympic Committee balloting in Moscow with 56 votes, against 49 for the three
other candidates combined. Although the vote is by secret ballot, China
“appeared to receive broad international support,” according to the
New York Times of July 14 .
“When the European Parliament and some members of the United States
Congress called for the Games to be sent elsewhere,” continued the Times
of July 14 , “the political maneuvering backfired, and Beijing
instead may have picked up another 10 votes from IOC delegates, said Mario
Pescante, an Italian member.”
Just days before the vote, the Bush administration had let it be known that it
would not try to block China, as Washington had done in 1993. At that time the
PRC lost by two votes to Australia. The momentum for Beijing has been building
for months. Washington decided that it was the better part of wisdom to go with
Anti-China invective began even before vote
Even before the actual selection of Beijing, when it was clear that China was
going to win, the capitalist press began a steady stream of anti-China
invective and threats. A Washington Post editorial on July 8  suggested
that the 2008 Olympics could become comparable to the 1936 Olympics staged by
the Nazis and Hitler in Berlin.
A New York Times editorial of July 12  gave voice to the ruling class
when it declared that the IOC should let China know that “its handling of
every aspect of the games—including construction of new Olympic arenas,
the treatment of foreign visitors and reporters, and the political climate in
which the games are held—will be closely monitored by the
It continued, “The IOC and the world at large should make clear that
granting the Olympics to China is not meant as a reward.” The
“liberal” New York Times gave the outlines of the anti-China
campaign being hatched in editorial rooms of the big business media.
“The Olympic authorities must insist that no journalists, athletes or
spectators seeking to attend the Games be denied entry to China, or find their
activities once there restricted, even if their political views are abhorrent
to the Chinese government. International media should have unrestricted access
in covering preparation for the Games and all areas of Chinese life [!] during
the Olympics, including human rights and China’s criminal justice
“Olympic officials,” continued the Times, “must also insist
on the right to monitor labor practices at Olympic construction sites, as well
as to oversee security measures leading up to the Games.” As if the Times
had ever shown genuine concern for workers in the U.S.!
The paper even threatened a boycott before the voting took place.
This is the rabid colonialist, anti-communist attitude that lurks beneath all
the sugar-coated language of imperialist diplomacy. The Times is only one step
away from calling for the old-style extraterritoriality of the “Open
Door” policy, when colonial powers trampled on China’s sovereignty
All this is demanded in the name of “human rights.” But this is
imperialist terminology, used as a smokescreen. Humanity does not exist in the
abstract. It is divided into classes, into oppressors and oppressed. The social
and political rights of those who fight on behalf of the exploiters and
oppressors of the working class have to be curtailed. Of course, this must not
be abused and must be done within the strict framework of socialist legality,
with an emphasis on political methods and the mobilization of the working
class. Repression should be a last resort.
If the PRC is engaged in a campaign against corrupt or counter-revolutionary
elements who want to restore full-scale capitalism and imperialism to China,
whether under the guise of defending democracy, human rights, religious
mysticism or any other pretext, it has the right to do so. The question of the
effectiveness of the methods is another matter. But imperialism has no right to
tell China to let its enemies organize with impunity.
Unfortunately some of the Chinese sports officials and advocates gave credence
to this imperialist arrogance by promising to “improve” the
“human rights” situation in China. It would be more to the point to
demand that the Chinese or any other progressive government be allowed to send
its media and observers into the U.S. to examine the plight of the working
class and all Black, Latino, Arab, Asian and Native people.
They could start by visiting Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally recognized
journalist and political prisoner on death row. Then they could move on to the
two million other poor people incarcerated in the dungeons of the U.S. They
could note that one-fourth of all Black males in the U.S. are under the
jurisdiction of the “criminal justice” system.
They could investigate the plight of millions of women and children living in
poverty in the richest country on earth. They could investigate the arson
against abortion clinics, including the one just burned down in Baton Rouge,
La. They could investigate the brutal violence and daily discrimination against
lesbian, gay, trans and bi people.
Let the Chinese monitor the U.S. sweatshops that exist from coast to coast,
many filled with undocumented workers with no rights at all. Let it be shown
that only 13 million of the 140 million workers in this country have a union.
It would be apropos of human rights to point out that 43 million poor and
working people have no health care in the U.S.
There is no end to the violations of “human rights” of the workers
and oppressed in this, the richest of all capitalist
Only the strength of the Chinese Revolution has forced the imperialists to deal
with the PRC.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
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