Kevin Rudd is reported as saying he still hasn’t made up his mind whether or not to attend the Beijing Olympics.
“What we’ve said to the Chinese consistently since then is that we’re not in a position to confirm whether we would go, it will depend entirely on timing constraints as we get closer to the event and that remains our position.”
Leaving to one side a disconcerting habit of using the “Royal We” when speaking about himself, it is worth noting that Mr Rudd has also indicated that matters of principle will not play any part in his decision – it is solely “a matter of practicality and timing” as to whether he attends or not.
Mr Rudd may be right in his view that boycotts of the Games by athletes may not be effective. That does not necessarily apply to boycotts by political leaders or by other people refusing to go or refusing to support companies sponsoring the Games who think pressuring the Chinese government human rights is inappropriate.
In any case, Mr Rudd’s alternative doesn’t strike me as having a terribly good track record when it comes to effectiveness either.
“The key thing is to ensure we have an effective diplomacy which produces a better outcome for the Tibetan people.”
Leaving aside the fact that human rights abuses in China involve much more than Tibet, decades of diplomacy have produced virtually nothing in getting “a better outcome for the Tibetan people.” Improvements in human rights were used as a justification for awarding the Olympics to Beijing. Given that the Chinese government’s performance in that area has gone backwards since then, are we still meant to leave the Chinese people (and Tibetans) hoping that “effective diplomacy” alone will deliver them some basic rights?