Olympics kicks unpopular ties

Beijing officials keep political issues aside

A leading Chinese Olympics official has said that any efforts to link the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games to political issues or boycotts would be “inappropriate and unpopular”.

Biz figures such as Mia Farrow and sundry human rights groups have seized upon the Olympics as a chance to exert pressure on China for everything from the conflict in Darfur, Beijing’s support of Myanmar’s ruling military junta and the rights of migrant workers.

“We believe that any political issue that has nothing to do with the Olympics should not be linked to the Beijing Games,” said Liu Jingmin, executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Communist Party National Congress in Beijing, an important five-yearly gathering that decides issues for China’s ruling communists. The event is expected to confirm President Hu Jintao’s grip on power in the world’s most populous nation.

Mia Farrow has been pushing the Chinese to do more to use their influence in Sudan to end the massacre in the Sudanese region of Darfur — and said that Steven Spielberg, who is helping organize the Olympics’ opening ceremony, risked being his generation’s Leni Riefenstahl if he gave tacit support to China’s role in Darfur. For its part, China said that it has done much to help ease the situation there.

Last week, Human Rights Watch urged China to use its U.N. Security Council membership to help end state repression in the former Burma after last month’s crackdown on street protests.

Liu, who is deputy mayor of Beijing, defended his government’s role again, saying China had played a constructive and responsible part in the Myanmar issue.

“We believe that an attempt to use this issue as an excuse to boycott the Olympics will be both inappropriate and unpopular,” he said.

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