For Immediate Release
Assessing China and the Olympics
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Leslie wrote the in-depth piece for Mother Jones, "The Last Empire: Can the World Survive China's Rush to Emulate the American Way of Life?"
Leslie's latest book, Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and was named one of the top science books of the year by Discover magazine.
Rieke is the wife of Brian Conley, an independent journalist and the founder of the videoblog "Alive in Baghdad." He was arrested by Chinese officials after covering an action in Beijing organized by Students for a Free Tibet. Also detained was another videographer, Jeffrey Rae, and several activists with Students for a Free Tibet.
Rieke is quoted in today's Philadelphia Inquirer: "'We knew that the Chinese government is extremely repressive and that they might respond to any effort to get the word out about Tibet strongly,' said Rieke, who is a doctor. She is 31 weeks pregnant with what will be her first child. 'So I have been stressed and worried, but overall, in the context of things, what he is experiencing is pretty minor compared to what many people have at the hands of the Chinese government.'"
A journalist who has worked for KPFA Radio, Chen, who speaks Mandarin, just returned to the San Francisco Bay Area from Beijing by way of Taipei. She said today: "The International Olympic Committee rules -- as well as the possibility of marketing opportunities -- virtually assure no political speech by the athletes. The general public in Beijing was enormously proud of hosting the Olympics, but there is a substantial section of the population, particularly people who have been displaced, that is very upset by some policies and they have no right of free speech."
Weil is the author of Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of "Market Socialism." He said today: "So far, we've really only gotten two story lines. One from U.S. elites about how China has a new self-confidence based on a robust market economy -- but the Chinese leadership is using that to cover their harsh authoritarian rule, human rights abuses, suppression of Tibetan desires for independence, etc. And another from the Chinese leaders: the Olympics are a time for the world to discover a dynamic and vibrant China; the entire country is pulling together and expressing its national pride in being able to host these events -- but some forces in the world, especially among U.S. elites, want to deny China its moment of national achievement and perpetuate misleading images and a legacy of foreign bullying and humiliation.
"But these are both one-sided narratives that we need to see past. We need to expose much of the hypocritical and chauvinistic rhetoric coming from some in the U.S. about China, especially after the invasion of Iraq as well as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. And we need to expose the oppressive character of the Chinese capitalist economy, and how its leaders are promoting nationalism to cover over exploitation and savage inequalities. The Chinese government is denouncing Western scheming while it is opening up the country ever wider to foreign economic penetration, with the spread of sweatshops, class polarization, and ecological disasters."