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Peter Navarro: An unsporting Beijing Olympiad

Thursday, August 9, 2007, Providence Journal

PETER NAVARRO

IRVINE, Calif.

YESTERDAY MARKED the start of the one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympics. To prepare for these games, Beijing has lavished billions on the more than 30 Olympic venues and almost 60 Olympic training sites needed. Beijing is also pouring billions more into the construction of a new Olympic Village, a shiny new convention center, a significant expansion of Beijing’s subway and airport systems, and a plethora of other public-works projects.

Here in the United States, Beijing’s construction boom has helped to significantly drive up new housing costs by inflating the cost of everything from cement and steel to timber and copper. But that is small potatoes compared to what’s happening to the Chinese themselves. By some estimates, a staggering number of Chinese — over one million — will be displaced by the construction process and the games themselves. While protests against such evictions have been ruthlessly suppressed by the government, outside of China there are other storm clouds gathering.

To mark the one-year countdown to the Olympics, protesters around the world are raising their banners. These highly diverse groups include pro-Tibetan organizations, Christian groups protesting China’s religious persecution, journalists decrying the lack of free speech, environmentalists raising awareness about China’s role in global warming and, with some high-profile Hollywood support, human-rights groups protesting China’s role in genocide in Darfur.

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