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The Kowtow Continues
July 13, 2001

When word of China's victorious Olympic bid came down, Beijing's streets exploded in spontaneous celebration - all according to plan. Party faithful were herded into the Great Hall of the People and primed with a revolutionary film. As the news broke, revelers were released into the streets to wave approved banners while patriotic tunes blared through official loudspeakers. "Our bid is supported by over 95% of Beijing people," exulted Wang Wei, secretary of the bid committee. Perhaps the remaining 5% failed to send their absentee ballots from labor camp.

In a move reminiscent of 1936 Berlin, the West has just stamped an international imprimatur on Beijing's brutality. Christians languish in prisons, chained but not charged. Mothers guilty of "reproductive crimes" endure forced abortions and mandatory sterilization. Targets of Operation Strike Hard file into coliseums to receive death sentences for crimes as minor as gasoline theft. Yet we comfort ourselves with the hollow claim that Beijing will do better because we're willing to long jump in Tiananmen Square.

It's a tired formula, repeatedly tried and predictably failed. Last year, America shoveled an $80 billion trade surplus China's way, chaperoned its bid for WTO membership, and apologized when they downed our plane and held our crew. The fruits of our labors? Look no further than the U.S. State Department report that China's "poor human rights record deteriorated markedly through last year, as the Government intensified efforts to suppress dissent….[it] continued to commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses."

Immunity to American goodwill isn't limited to China's leaders. Three weeks ago, at a Forbidden City Olympic concert featuring the Three Tenors, Agence France Presse photographer Stephen Shaver was assaulted by Chinese police for documenting the violent arrest of a dissident. Behavior unbecoming is standard issue for Communist enforcers, but the reaction of the crowd was surprising. Near the spot where student demonstrators once raised a Statue of Liberty, the mob chanted "expletive American," joined in the beating, and jeered as Shaver was forced to make a public apology.

Word of the incident reached our State Department, where a spokesman was "outraged."" Not so Mr. Bush. While the E.U. passed a resolution calling Beijing's bid "inappropriate" because of its "disastrous record on human rights," the U.S. chose to watch from the sidelines. "We decided not to decide," said Richard A. Boucher, State Department spokesman.

Not decide that holding 30 U.S. citizens in custody is unacceptable? Not decide that terrorizing our allies, infiltrating our elections, and targeting our cities is inexcusable? Not decide that a nation soaked in the blood of its own is an unfit guardian of the Olympic flame? Dante had words for this brand of cowardice: "There is a place in hell reserved for those who remain silent."

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