China defends human rights record


Bid delegates were talking to reporters two days before Friday’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote for the 2008 venue in which Beijing is widely regarded as the favourite. They were speaking only hours after Russian police detained six Tibetan exiles and activists and at least one journalist after a Moscow demonstration against the Chinese bid. China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since the 1950s.
Beijing has faced widespread criticism over China’s human rights record ahead of the vote but leading bid official Wang Wei said: “I think that is a big challenge for us. I think one solution is to let the world come to China to see for themselves what China is really like.
“I think the Games will be a good opportunity to focus on China for 16 days and, in the seven years towards the Games, people can all come to China to see for themselves. I think the differences will be easily resolved.”
Beijing is strongly favoured to hold off Paris and Toronto in the vote, which also includes outsiders Osaka and Istanbul.
Asked about demonstrations, Wang said: “I have heard about demonstrations but we are not worried. I think we have the support of 1.3 billion people behind us. I think we have support from friends from all over the world and we believe we can stage a great Games.
“We are not worried. China has attached great importance to the human rights of our own people. For 50 years we have tried very hard, starting with economic development and a social programme including education and human rights.”