18 October 2007

Myanmar, China, the EU and the Olympics

Dear readers,

I have been away for much too long and I would like to apologize. I have been pretty busy doing too many things at the same time (and thus nothing really well enough).

To come back to our topic, I would like to talk today about Myanmar. Our newspapers have been full of public indignation to what just happened there and what is most certainly still happening. They were also full of governmental indignation at the same facts. We heard the UK, USA, French or German governments having terrible words for the mad generals' junta. Sanctions were even voted by the European Union as well as the US Congress. Even the UN Security Council (this true embodiment of international hypocrisy) went as far as calling the Myanmar thugs to more measure. But, let's be honest, for what result? Nada! The government violently cracked down on the unhappy monks and their civilian supporters. Everything went back to normal, and, while the generals feast on the spoils of the people in their new capital, the "order" reigns in Rangoon.

Why is that? Well, it is simple. The Western countries have little or no interaction with Myanmar (ex-Burma) and the suppression of this little won't change anything for the ghoulish members of the junta. They can continue to mismanage, plunder, torture, slaughter and exploit in all impunity. The only true country with which they have any interaction is China. But as we all know, the People's Republic of China is not shy about Human rights violations. It cultivates it as a national sport. And speaking about sport, it is just organizing the next Olympics. What an unfortunate coincidence! Immediately, of course, some voices rose to ask China to act towards Myanmar in a responsible way to help the International Community stopping the slaughter. But China's answer was the usual: Myanmar problems are internal and do not threaten the region's stability. This is basically a diplomatic way of saying: "as long as Myanmar problems don't threaten our oil and raw material routes, we prefer to continue help the generals plundering the country, it is highly profitable and who cares about poor citizens, they'll die sooner or later anyway". Just the way China deals with North Korea, basically, and, after all, just the same way it deals with its own citizens when they are unhappy...

So the same voices raised an idea: why not ask for a boycott of the same Olympics if China does nothing? That sounds like a fair idea: China badly needs these Olympics to help it improve its international standards (quite spoiled by its treatment of Tibet or Sin Kiang or its unfriendly gesticulations against Taiwan). And it probably needs it even more than it needs Myanmar. So, what happened? Well, nothing of course. I don't know why, but there is not any such request anymore in the global press. Not a word. So I am asking myself a question: did China pressured the Western governments (after all, China is a big market for their industries, but, more importantly a major workshop for the goods they consume)? It is actually unlikely. As the recent Dalai Lama visit to Washington shows, the Chinese dictators don't have this power yet. So maybe it is another reason. Maybe main media were too afraid? For instance afraid of being banned from covering these famous Olympics. Or worse, simply of losing very substantial publicity revenues if the show (as unlikely as it is) does not go on? I don't have any proper answer to these questions. But I think they deserved to be asked.

For myself, I will boycott the Beijing Olympics. I am sad of seeing the Games once again giving up to a country which violates some of the basic principles of sport and more importantly Humanity. So I will not watch TV broadcasts showing the Games and I will not read newspapers about it either. It would be a serious treason to the poor people of Burma who suffer and desperately hoped that this time we would mobilize for them. With something more than good words. We are very good with words. Not too much with actions.

During this time, China holds the 17th Party Congress. A vast farce where journalists dig up in word counts (you don't really want to listen to the whole speeches, it's way too boring) what the next party line will be. A farce where new party leaders try to impose their mark on History, like Deng Xiao Ping in its time. Apparently, the new fad this year is "Scientific Outlook on Development"... Probably a cover up for more exploitation and pollution. But who cares? It's China, right?