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China's good sportsmanship

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By John Barnhart

It appears that China may be trying to invent a new Olympic sport. What would we call it? The Tibetan head-bashing marathon?

Actually, what has been going on has nothing to do with the games. It is, however, a source of embarrassment for the Chinese government, which is hoping that the Olympics will give them the chance for some positive PR. The news, at least what we are getting, about the situation is not the sort of publicity they want.

So far, China's government is not helping itself. It won't let Western news correspondents into Tibet, or areas where there is unrest and China's news media has accused Western media of being biased in it's coverage. There is no freedom of the press in China, so anything that comes from its media is either government sanctioned or government suggested.

The joke is that China would get a pretty fair deal from the Western press. Initial news reports, before all Western reporters were kicked out of Tibet, indicated that there is some truth about what Chinese officials are saying about the Tibetan rioters. A reporter for The Economist described the scene as something of a race riot with Tibetans targeting Han Chinese who's only offense was being members of the wrong ethnic group in the wrong place. Other stories have reported similar things, the violence has been directed against Chinese people who have no say in what their government does.

Now, most of the news is provided by China's state news agency. Maybe conditions are as they say, with security forces trying to show restraint while protecting Chinese lives and property. Or, maybe security forces are committing atrocities. We can only guess about what China's government is not telling us.

China's state news agency, Xinhua also blasted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi went to India, visited the Dalai Lama and criticized Chinese oppression in Tibet. Xinhua accused Pelosi of being apathetic to innocent victims of riots in Lasa and defending arsonists, looters and killers.

I have a low opinion of Nancy Pelosi and her efforts to horn in on the president's prerogative to make foreign policy. I think she's an idiot, but she's our idiot. At least she holds her office because she won a free and fair election and it galls me for the mouthpiece of a government, that doesn't even make a pretense of holding democratic elections, to attack her in that manner.

Even if the Tibetan rioters are acting just as Chinese authorities say they are, we need to remember why there are Chinese authorities in Tibet in the first place. Tibet is part of China because China invaded Tibet in 1950. It's part of a pattern of Chinese aggression ever since the Communists took over in the late 1940's. China also tried to invade Vietnam in the late 70's. Unlike Tibet in 1950, Vietnam proved capable of defending itself. After some initial Chinese advances, Vietnamese troops sent the Chinese army packing back across the border.

We need to remember this not only to understand why Tibetans are so angry. We need to remember this because these acts of aggression were not committed when China was under different management. The Chinese Communist Party that was running the show in 1950, and that brought us the massacres in Tiananmen Square in 1989 is the same Chinese Communist Party that runs the show today. While it has ditched communism for capitalism, it still runs a one-party state and tolerates no domestic opposition, or any foreign criticism.

We must remember this because it indicates that our problems with China aren't all cases of cultural misunderstandings. China has shown a willingness to be militarily aggressive to it's neighbors in the recent past and it hasn't changed its ways.

China is not our buddy. It's a potentially dangerous foreign competitor and we must not forget that.