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FIRST PERSON: The Chinese dragon
by Brad Locke
Date: Jul 27, 2007

TUPELO, Miss. (BP)–I’m right here, China. Let me say this loud and clear: Your government disgusts me; its human-rights record is abysmal. And I don’t think you were a good choice to host the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

China is gathering intelligence on people who share my views. Of course, I’m not vain enough to believe that anything I say will warrant a closer look from the big bad communists. I’m just one person.

China, despite all the ammunition it has provided foreign media – or perhaps because of it – is trying to avoid a public relations disaster. It’s trying to portray itself to the world as a gleaming beacon of progress and harmony, the Games a symbol of their achievement and global power.

This is sort of like Tour de France officials trying to convince everyone that their race is drug-free. Nobody, save those who hold blind allegiances, will buy it.

If you’re a Christian in China – most estimates put the number between 40 million and 100 million, though the government insists it’s no more than 16 million – then you are not a friend of the state. Imprisonment, torture, death – such fates have befallen Christians in that country, and the threat will only increase as the number of converts continues to rise.

So the question is, should the Beijing Olympics be boycotted? Or will protests suffice? I’m not sure, but something should be done to highlight the evil permeating that country’s government.

There’s precedent for a boycott – see: Moscow, 1980 – but I would hate to see some fine athletes who have worked very hard see their Olympic dreams snatched away. Then again, principles are bigger than athletics. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, which happens when sports and politics mix. We’ve seen a similar situation with the NCAA not allowing Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina to host championship events because those states dared to recognize their heritage.

But this isn’t about an athletic organization ignoring the past. This is about a national government trying to gloss over not only its past, but its present. It doesn’t feel right to give the Chinese – and when I say Chinese, understand that I mean its oppressive leaders – any sort of positive recognition while they still engage in inhumane practices.

My hope and prayer is that the Olympics will force the mainstream media to give greater attention to Christians’ plight in China and somehow begin a wave of change. I thought at first that giving the Games to China would be a bad thing all around, but God has a way of bringing blessings out of such situations.

And I know He would love to use His people to bring about those blessings. Here we are, China.

--30--

Brad Locke is a sports writer for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Write to him at checkswinger@gmail.com.

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