Beijing Olympics make political with Taiwan and Uyghur questions
BEIJING, (AP) -- China has been stating its position on questions regarding its politics and policies for two weeks.
This changed on Thursday at the Beijing organizing board's last regularly scheduled daily press conference, just three days before the Games ended. These questions were politely refused by the Beijing organizing committee. Instead, the news conference with Chinese officials reflected the normal state of affairs -- authoritative and calibrated answers to sensitive issues.
Taiwan? A part indivisible of China. The Uyghur people of the Xinjiang area. Being not forced into labor. China's sovereignty? International norms make it impossible to challenge China's sovereignty.
Yan Jiarong, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee, stated that "What I want is to say is that there's only one China in this world," and called it "a solemn place" for China. It was only a matter time before these topics burst at seams. The diplomatic boycott by the United States focused on China's human rights record. China determinedly kept the Olympics in the spotlight, but was also committed to publicly defending its positions.
Yan and Mark Adams, the IOC spokesman, were asked questions about Taiwan, Xinjiang and Peng Shuai's safety.
Yan asked Yan for more time to discuss Taiwan's reported attempt at skipping the opening ceremony.
She opened often in English, but she switched to Chinese to highlight key points. An interpreter translated her words into English.
Yan spoke in English. Shifting to Chinese, Yan said: "Taiwan [is] an indivisible component of China. This is a well-recognized international principle that is well acknowledged by the international community. We oppose the idea of politicizing Olympic Games.
A non-Chinese reporter immediately interrogated Adams and suggested Yan had "politicized the Games" by raising China’s position on Taiwan. Adams dodged the question.
Adams stated that there are many views, but Adams' job is to ensure the Games happen. A reporter asked Adams if she knew Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player, and if Peng was safe.
Three months ago, Peng, who was once the top-ranked doubles player in the world, accused a former high ranking politician of sexual assault. Peng's comments were removed immediately from China's censored Internet.
"Well, I am sorry," she replied. "I don't really understand that."
Adams was directly questioned by a reporter about the IOC's position regarding the reported existence in Xinjiang of "concentration camps", and whether China used forced labor there. Adams said that the question wasn't "particularly pertinent" to the briefing and went on to praise Olympics' ability to unite people.
Yan once again ensured that China was heard.
She stated that she believes the questions were based on lies. "Some authorities have already denied this false information. There are many solid evidence. All that evidence is available and all facts are welcome.
Yan gave a similar answer to a reporter who asked Adams if IOC uniforms were made by Uyghur labor or from Xinjiang.
Adams stated that "none of the production occurred in Xinjiang" and that the raw materials used were not from the region.
Yan said, "I believe the so-called forced labor in Xinjiang is a fabrication by deliberate groups. The relevant organizations have presented a lot of facts to refute that. We are against the politicization and abuse of sports."
Details were sought but not provided about the assertion by a Japanese reporter that she was stopped from asking questions to an Alpine skier hailing from Hong Kong by an organizer committee staffer.
China actively suppresses pro-democracy organizations in Hong Kong.
The Olympic Charter guarantees athletes the right to voice their opinions in interview areas. Yan stated that Beijing organizers would "protect freedom of speech for all participants."