A 2008 Olympics boycott?

Yesterday, French presidential candidate François Bayrou called for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, saying that China was not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in Darfur: There is nothing easier than stopping this tragedy, this genocide. This is a political issue because China decided to bring its protection to the Khartoum regime.” China ...

603099_070322_boycott2008_05.jpg
603099_070322_boycott2008_05.jpg

Yesterday, French presidential candidate François Bayrou called for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, saying that China was not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in Darfur:

There is nothing easier than stopping this tragedy, this genocide. This is a political issue because China decided to bring its protection to the Khartoum regime."

China has come under increasing international criticism for investing in Africa, while ignoring human rights atrocities occurring on the continent. It currently buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil, and so has used its position on the U.N. Security Council to stymie attempts to put real pressure on the Sudanese government.

Yesterday, French presidential candidate François Bayrou called for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, saying that China was not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in Darfur:

There is nothing easier than stopping this tragedy, this genocide. This is a political issue because China decided to bring its protection to the Khartoum regime.”

China has come under increasing international criticism for investing in Africa, while ignoring human rights atrocities occurring on the continent. It currently buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil, and so has used its position on the U.N. Security Council to stymie attempts to put real pressure on the Sudanese government.

Reporters Without Borders

Bayrou’s statement is not likely to have much of a real effect. The center-right party’s candidate is currently running behind Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal in the polls. Press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ended its own call for a boycott during a visit to Beijing in January. And as for China, it trotted out Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao today for this bland retort: “The people who put forward those remarks are not very clear on China’s position on the Darfur issue.”

Still, it’s unusual that Bayrou would call for a boycott on the basis China’s foreign policy towards a third party. (The American and Soviet blocs each boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, respectively, in response to the other side’s domestic policies and foreign policies aimed at them.) Nonetheless, it’s an interesting thought. Beijing will invest more than $23 billion in the 2008 Olympics, and has been preparing for years to showcase China to the world. What better way for China to lose face than for no one to come to the party?

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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