Sun, Sep 09, 2007 - Page 3 News List

EU official calls on the US to boycott Beijing Olympics

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott called on the US yesterday to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a result of human rights abuses against Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners in China.

He made the call yesterday in Taipei while addressing the International Symposium on Human Rights in Tibet.

McMillan-Scott praised the US for its worldwide efforts in promoting democracy and called the US the "leader of the free world."

"The leader of the free world has no place in the Olympics in Beijing," he said, citing human rights abuses as the reason the US should boycott the event.

"Respect for human rights in China falls short of accepted international standards in the areas of both civil and political rights," he said. "Freedom of expression, association, religion, Internet use and the press are heavily restricted. Ideological debate is strictly limited by the state."

He also said the EU "should now begin a debate about a boycott of the 2008 Olympics, unless by Christmas there is ... significant and profound change."

Addressing the symposium, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said China is trying to showcase its power and build its image by hosting the Olympics.

"But if China only wants to cover up its human rights problems with the glory of the Olympic Games ... the 2008 Olympics will be the biggest humiliation and blow to the values propounded in the Olympic Charter, including human dignity and respect for universal morality," Chen said.

On Friday, Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said the government had no plan to boycott the Olympic Games at this moment.

Shieh made the remarks after US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a co-chair of the House Taiwan Caucus, said in a videoconference held by the American Enterprise Institute with Chen on Thursday that Taiwan should boycott the Olympics to protest China's human rights abuses.

Noting that Rohrabacher's appeal echoed opinions expressed by human rights advocacy groups around the world, Shieh said such voices have been growing, given China's poor human rights record and high-handed repression of political dissent.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said yesterday that Taiwan and China had failed to reach agreement on Taiwan's inclusion in the Olympic torch relay.

Chen said Tsai Chen-wei (蔡辰威), chairman of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, who had traveled to Beijing the previous day in a last-ditch effort to hammer out an agreement, returned empty-handed last night.

Chen Ming-tong refused to brand the negotiations as a failure, saying only that Beijing had raised other issues that prevented a final agreement from being reached.

He did not say whether negotiations would continue.

Additional reporting by CNA

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