With China as the location of this year’s Olympic Games, the recent crackdown in Tibet and alleged lack of general human rights in Mainland China are creating protests around the world.  These protests follow the Olympic torch on its international publicity tour.  Although supporters from both pro-China and pro-Tibet groups have been at the protests, those protesters concerned about human rights in China are more numerous, better organized, and have much more sway in public opinion.

NPR reported on Tuesday that protests in Paris were so vehement that the torch was doused half a dozen times.  Eventually, event organizers elected to place the torch in a van and simply drive it to the next scheduled destination.  Protests in London a day earlier were likewise strong and well-reported in the international media.

The Olympic torch came to the San Francisco Bay area yesterday and the route was changed at the last second to avoid the massive crowds present to protest China and its policies.  Wired News reported on the technology pro-Tibet activists were using to organize, instantly update information, pictures, and videos to their websites, and dominate the news cycle.  Pro-China supporters were also out in force, with the crowd presence at the lighting ceremony much more friendly to China those found along the route the torch took afterwards.  Several scuffles did break out, with CNN reporting that one protestor who showed a Tibetan flag being assaulted by police.  Despite that fact, it was still a much more civilized and organized affair than the protests in Paris.

The contention being stirred up by protestors concerned about last month’s crackdown in Tibet along with China’s longstanding ties to Sudan has begun to have an impact on international opinion towards the Games.  Gordon Brown has announced that he will be skipping the opening ceremony.  Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have called on Bush to do that same, and Angela Merkel of Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy of France have hinted that they are considering not attending that ceremony as well.

Nathaniel Jonet

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