Premier Balkenende en andere wereldleiders in Beijing
13 augustus 2008
Op 8 augustus 2008 waren de ogen van de wereld niet alleen op Beijing gericht, maar ook op de vele staatshoofden, regeringsleiders en ministers die ervoor kozen bij de openingsceremonie aanwezig te zijn. Stewart Watters, ICT’s director government relations, zet uiteen in hoeverre de politici hun beloftes nakwamen om van de gelegenheid gebruik te maken hun bezorgdheid over mensenrechten en Tibet over te brengen bij China’s leiders.
The Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing on 8 August was attended by numerous heads of state and political figures from the participating countries. Following protests in Tibet in March this year and the ensuing Chinese military crackdown, leaders from Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic and many others, backed by their own public, chose to stay away from the highly politicised opening ceremony.
Notable exceptions were President Bush, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Balkenende, who all attended the opening ceremony. Despite claiming that sport and politics shouldn’t mix, these political leaders chose the Olympics as an opportunity to show that they stood by China’s leadership, regardless of their actions in Tibet.
Perhaps appreciating the deep scepticism about their attendance back at home, all three leaders claim to have made firm statements on human rights while in Beijing:
President Bush (USA): US President George W. Bush on expressed “deep concerns” about freedom and human rights in China, during his visit to attend the Beijing Olympic Games. In a weekly radio address that was broadly positive about US-Chinese relations, the US leader said his four-day visit to attend the Olympic Games had reinforced his belief that China must accept greater freedoms.
“During my time here, I’m expressing America’s deep concerns about freedom and human rights in China,” he said. “This trip has reaffirmed my belief that men and women who aspire to speak their conscience and worship their God are no threat to the future of China.”
Bush again spoke on religious freedom at a Protestant church in Beijing on Sunday, just hours before meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Prime Minister Balkenende (Netherlands): Prime Minister Balkenende told his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao he is concerned about human rights violations in China, ANP reported on Sunday.
“This issue should be discussed. I did it before, I have done it today and I will continue to do so in the future,” the prime minister was quoted as saying. Balkende said he discussed freedom of the press, the position of human rights activists, minority rights and the situation in Tibet.
Balkenende told reporters the Chinese prime minister felt there should be further dialogue on these points and they will be on the agenda when he makes an official visit to the country again at the end of October.
President Sarkozy (France): While Sarkozy was headed for Beijing, his office in Paris released a statement that he would not meet with the Dalai Lama during his 11-day visit to France, despite previously giving assurances that France was committed to assisting progress in talks between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama.
“Mr Sarkozy is losing on all fronts — whether human rights and France’s international image or its relations with the Chinese authorities who now know how seriously to take French demands,” newspaper Le Monde said in an editorial.