LONDON: The West must stop hectoring China over human rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has told a leading British newspaper.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge smiles as he answers a question at a news conference after the IOC Executive Board meeting in Beijing April 11, 2008. [Agencies]
"You don't obtain anything in China with a loud voice," Rogge told Saturday's Financial Times. "That is the big mistake of people in the West wanting to add their views.
"It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949," Rogge added, noting that was a time when Britain and other European nations were also colonial powers, "with all the abuse attached to colonial powers".
"It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the colonies. Let's be a little bit more modest."
Rogge said the IOC always believed awarding the 2008 Games to Beijing would "open up China", and that in time, this would happen.
"The Games we believe, over time, will have a good influence on social evolution in China, and the Chinese admit it themselves," he said.
Rogge questioned whether media attention on Tibet would be as strong if the Games were not taking place in Beijing. "I wonder if Tibet would be front page today were it not that the Games are being organized in Beijing. It would probably be page 4 or 5," he said.
"To keep face (in Asia) is of paramount importance. All the Chinese specialists will tell you that only one thing works - respectful, quiet but firm discussion."
Rogge said his relations with Beijing were excellent, although "they have their priorities and we have ours".
He noted that Beijing has made progress in two policy areas - a media law providing 25,000 foreign media access during the Games, and environmental measures to tackle the city's chronic pollution problems.
Rogge said China had given significant ground to the IOC by opening access to foreign media for the Olympics, which he expected to be extended beyond 2008 and believed would be a key factor in the social evolution of the country.
The Games would continue to be awarded to cities with the best technical bids, and are for the benefit of athletes rather than for international political evolution, he said.