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China Using Games To Highlight Best, Hide Worst


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The formal opening of the Beijing Olympics is just hours away. Fifteen thousand performers will take part in a lavish ceremony at the new National Stadium with promises of extravagant fireworks in the shape of the Olympic rings. For NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr, the more interesting events are happening outside the stadium.


DANIEL SCHORR: The Olympic truce, it was called. Two warring kings in the area of Greece called Olympia agreed to suspend fighting so athletes and pilgrims could travel freely to the games. But today, the tension emanating from Beijing is almost probable as thousands upon thousands of security forces stand by waiting for trouble. President Hu Jintao has said without security guarantees, there cannot be a successful Olympic Games. And without security guarantees, the national image will be lost.

There have been violent episodes outside Beijing, like the killing of 16 border police in the Muslim area of Kashgar. But it's not clear that these were directly connected with the Olympics.

In Beijing, protesters unfurled religious and Tibetan banners and were led away by the police. One American athlete, Joey Cheek, has had his visa to enter China revoked, but he was not a member of this year's Olympic team. Cheek was the 2006 speed skating champion who aroused the ire of the Chinese government by heading an organization that criticized China for failing to protest against human rights violations in the Darfur area of Sudan.

The indications are that the Chinese regime is not looking for trouble. It says it has designated three areas for protest groups. But applications have to be submitted by those who want to protest, and it doesn't appear that any licenses have so far been approved.

The Chinese have also sought the cooperation of Interpol in dealing with potential violence. Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble has said the absence of a terrorist incident and serious criminal activity will be an important measure of the success of these games.


And so, tomorrow, the culmination of China's massive effort to show all of its best while trying to keep its worst under wraps. This is Daniel Schorr. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.