Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is the Dalai Lama the Olympic "Exchange"?

Beijing is understandably not pleased that the Dalai Lama is being honored by Congress and received by President Bush. The president, of course, has tried to mollify the Chinese by indicating that he, as a "sports fan", will plan to attend the 2008 Olympic Games.

While some commentators are urging George W. Bush to maximize the opportunity to press the PRC on a whole variety of issues, I am wondering whether the president's acceptance--at this point--marks the beginning of the end of the use of the 2008 Olympic card. Beijing moved a bit on Darfur, reportedly helped in getting the releases of those detained in Iran, and appears, despite vocal protests, to have accepted the reality of the Dalai Lama's visit to the United States. In other words, we played the Olympic card, and now that game is up. One also wonders whether there has been any unofficial quid pro quo--essentially trading the Dalai Lama's visit here with a pledge that the president will attend the Olympic Games and that the visit will not be held hostage to further demands made on China.

Seems a pretty "cheap" use of the Olympic card to me.
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