By Lynn Sweet and Andrew Herrmann
WASHINGTON — Days before the Olympic torch arrives in San Francisco — and after protests in Paris and London and at the Golden Gate Bridge — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Monday called on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony in Beijing to pressure China on Tibet and Darfur.
“The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for presidential leadership,” Clinton said in a statement.
“These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing.”
The Chinese Olympics present a quandary for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
(This is the print version of earlier blog post)
Obama, vying with Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has spoken out against Chinese reluctance to use its influence on Sudan to stop the violence in Darfur and human rights abuses in Tibet. But Chicago is competing for the 2016 Olympics and one of his top advisers, Valerie Jarrett, is the vice chair of the city’s bid committee.
Last week, Obama said, “I’m hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it’s partly about bringing the world together” and Monday in a statement did not address the proposal to boycott the opening ceremony. If the Chinese government did not work “toward meaningful autonomy for Tibet,” Obama said, “there should be consequences.”
Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said, “If we are fortunate enough to be chosen as a candidate city, we would be honored to attend the Beijing Games.”
Ed Hula, who edits around therings.com, which covers the Olympics’ business side, said a U.S. boycott “would kill the bid” for Chicago.
As the Olympic torch heads for San Francisco, officials are ready for more protests in the lone American stop for the torch. “The situation in San Francisco is also a worry” for the United States Olympic Committee, added Hula.
European leaders are considering a boycott of the opening ceremony. The Bush White House is not.
(this is full Obama statement)
“I have been deeply disturbed by the recent events in Tibet, and have communicated my concerns in public and to President Bush. As I have said repeatedly, the Chinese government must take immediate steps to respect the dignity, security, human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people, to provide foreign press and diplomats with access to the region, and to finally work with the Dalai Lama toward meaningful autonomy for Tibet. If they do not, there should be consequences, said Barack Obama.