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Why So Afraid To Offend China?

Updated on Aug 09, 2008 – SCMP

Achim Steiner (“Beijing green efforts are clear for all to see”, August 7) is correct when he stated that at the Los Angeles Olympics there was concern with pollution as at Atlanta, Seoul, Athens and Barcelona.

The major differences with the Beijing Olympics is that in the US there was widespread criticism and much debate over how bad it was for the athletes.

What we see in Beijing is a worldwide desire not to offend the authorities lest they throw a tantrum. A case in point was when US cyclists Mike Friedman, Sarah Hammer, Bobby Lea and Jennie Reed wore masks when they arrived in Beijing. Despite their having concerns over the air quality, the four later issued a public apology as if their action was perceived as a slight to the Chinese people.

We have seen this far too much of late: that the world is scared of offending China. Why?

The nation, like any other, can only grow if it learns from its mistakes. China will only be respected on the world stage when it comes to terms with fair but honest criticism.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

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