- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) recently told Vogue magazine that she’s puzzled by protests against the Chinese government in advance of the Olympics in Beijing. “I don’t see why people are so negative,” she reportedly said. Hmmm. We’re scratching our heads over here.

1. Dissidents — The Chinese regime promised to improve its human rights record, especially its treatment of dissidents and persecuted groups such as Falun Gong, in advance of the Olympic games. In fact, according to a recently released Amnesty International report, “The authorities have stepped up repression of dissident voices in their efforts to present an image of ‘stability’ and ‘harmony’ to the outside world.”

2. Forced relocations — Miss Zhang said “the games are about friendship.” In Beijing, they’re also about forcing inconveniently located citizens from their homes to make room for new construction. Not to mention killing hundreds of cats as part of a city “beautification” project.

3. Pollution — If the air in Beijing is as bad as China-based Atlantic Monthly writer James Fallows’ ongoing series of photographs of the city’s skyline suggests, the world’s athletes might want to practice breathing from tailpipes over the next couple of weeks.

4. Censorship — The Chinese regime maintains what observers call the nation’s other Great Wall - a firewall that severely restricts Internet access to news and information about democracy, human rights and government corruption. The Amnesty International report also noted that the government continues to interfere with the reporting of foreign journalists in China.

5. Blacklists — Surely Miss Zhang can sympathize with fellow actresses such as Tang Wei, who was blacklisted earlier this year for “glorifying traitors” in her role in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution”? The regime routinely bans actors, especially for displays of Taiwanese nationalism. But it’s the Olympics. So we’ll shut up now.

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