02/27/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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IOC advisor: the Olympics are an opportunity for respect of human rights

Even if improvements are not seen yet, there is the conviction that China will do something to improve its image. Meanwhile, the government tells Rice that it is "ready to resume talks" with the U.S. on respect for rights.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "If the Games were not awarded to China the (human rights) situation would not have progressed". Francois Carrard, who was in July of 2001 the director general of the International Olympic Committee when Beijing was chosen, explains why he believes this decision was positive and why he does not support any boycott.

In an interview given yesterday to the BBC, Carrard acknowledges that no improvements on respect for rights have been seen so far, but he says he is "convinced that when we look at this with the perspective of history we will see that the Olympic Games will have been an opportunity for considerable progress". "Human rights is an overwhelming concern for all IOC members". Carrard says he is convinced that China is a country different from the rest of the world, that immediate results cannot be demanded, but that in any case the world's attention on the Games will force the Chinese government to do something to improve its image.

For this reason, Carrard is against a boycott, which he believes would turn Beijing back toward isolation.  "I respect what Mr Spielberg says [American film director Steven Spielberg resigned from working on the Games because of a lack of Chinese intervention to stop the war in Darfur] but, respectfully, I totally disagree with him".

Also yesterday, at the end of a press conference with U.S. secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi said that Beijing is "ready to resume talks" on human rights with Washington.  The dialogue was interrupted in 2003 after the execution of a Tibetan and the arrest of human rights activists, considered by the U.S. as proof of the lack of interest in improving the situation.  The United States has asked for talks to resume.

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