San Francisco awaits the Olympic fire. For days, as before in London and Paris, opponents of China have been demonstrating, bringing the torch relay to a temporary halt. However, all this is happening in the streets – politicians are still largely holding back on criticizing Beijing. Many experts suspect that this is mainly due to economic interests. Matthias von Hein, head of Deutsche Welle's China program, gives his assessment in an interview with this site.
People around the world take to the streets to protest China – but their governments remain silent. "I think what the governments of the world are very much thinking about is that in many key political fields, you can't get around China anymore," said Asia expert Matthias von Hein. Particularly with regard to nuclear programs and combating climate change, he said it would also be "unwise in his eyes to tear down the communication bridges with the Chinese leadership". Overall, however, there is also a lack of a clear common position of the states in Europe on the conflict over China, emphasizes von Hein. A single state could not do much on this point, he said. "China is throwing a lot of mass into the mix," expert cautions. "From my point of view, it would be wise, for example, to upgrade the Dalai Lama as a joint interlocutor."
USA opts for dialogue instead of confrontation But not only in Europe, also in the USA one restrains oneself. The world power is currently in a weakened position vis-à-vis China, explains von Hein. "There is a very strong intertwining of Chinese and U.S. interests. It is possible that the Americans think they can achieve more with a diplomacy of dialogue instead of confrontation."
Boycott questionable and wrong China has already emphasized several times how important the 2008 Olympic Games are for their country, also from an economic point of view. But for China, the Olympics are less about economic interests than about the idea of presenting itself as a modern, open country, von Hein said. "This has gone wrong. I think we even have to speak of a PR disaster here."As far as China's priorities are concerned, that's the bigger damage in any case," he said. "The unity of the country, which China sees in jeopardy from the protests, is certainly valued more highly by the Chinese as a priority than possible economic losses from a boycott," von Hein points out.Such a one he considers questionable and wrong. "Wiser instead of not going to Beijing at all, in my opinion, is to go there and clearly express your opinion."