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Argument: Influencing China on Darfur would be best achieved through the Olympics there

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  • Nicholas D. Kristof. "More on Boycotting the Chinese Olympics". February 5, 2007 - "And ultimately one way to get China to help on Darfur is to get the Chinese people to be more concerned with Sudan. There are some 10 million blogs in China, and it would help enormously if more of them showed an interest in Darfur. The bloggers are limited in what they can say, but the main red lines have to do with domestic politics; complaining about government policy in Sudan is something that the blogs could get away with.
And criticism is certainly justified. A generation ago, China underwrote the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia; now it’s doing the same thing in Sudan. Because 65 percent of Sudan’s oil exports go to China, Beijing ships weapons to Sudan, operates three arms factories there, and protects Sudan in the U.N. Security Council. When kids are killed by the Janjaweed in Darfur, it’s with Chinese Ak-47’s. China’s role has been utterly disgraceful, and it is in a sense providing political cover for atrocities in Sudan that are every bit as awful as the Rape of Nanjing.
Ultimately, I think the most effective way to have an impact would be to ask athletes to pledge to wear warm-ups that say “Save Darfur” or — much better — “Hu Jintao, Stop Killing Darfur.” The athletes and coaches could also hold a vigil at Tiananmen Square for the people of Darfur. They could give press conferences. They could plan a trip before and after to a Chad refugee camp. Joey Cheek, the speed skater, singlehandedly called considerable attention to Darfur in the last winter Olympics, and he could be in charge of the effort to have athletes participate in the Beijing Olympics — but without forgetting the people of Darfur.
One of the problems is that in the aftermath of Iraq, ordinary Chinese would see a boycott as a nationalist insult, and a hypocritical one at that. So let’s attend the Olympics, but in ways that will call attention to Chinese complicity in genocide, in ways that will embarrass the Chinese government but not the people."

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