Point of View
What are your thoughts on China, the Olympics, and the current protests as the torch makes its way to Beijing?
BERKELEY — As thousands of people lined the streets of San Francisco on April 9, hoping to pay tribute to the Olympic torch or to protest policies of the Chinese government, the NewsCenter asked students on Sproul Plaza for their thoughts on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The Olympics are one of the most important world bonding events we do peacefully, so I would be opposed to us not going to the Olympics at all. I've heard talk of not attending the opening ceremonies in protest. That would be a good show of faith — to the fact that China does create a lot of human atrocities — and still be able to participate in the games to bring us together as world community.
Yet between Tibet, Taiwan, Sudan, China is not the most friendly country right now. If people want to go out and protest, that's definitely their right. I don't support aborting the games completely, but I support the right to get out there and protest.
— Keith Yetter, sophomore, political science
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
My parents are from mainland China; they were raised in the Cultural Revolution. My father did not have a good experience with the Communist Party in China; neither did my mom. Yet they raised me with loyalty to the Chinese government, even though they themselves have a mixed view of it.
In my time at Berkeley, I've actually been exposed to a lot of other ideas about China, about [its policy on] Taiwan and Tibet especially. In my internship right now, I'm actually working with some Tibetans who are seeking political asylum in the U.S., because of human-rights abuses going on in China.
So I don't want to say anything against the Chinese people. I identify very strongly as being Chinese. I love Chinese people; I love Chinese food; I love Chinese culture. I speak Chinese, I've been to China three times. I want to feel loyalty to China. But the Chinese government right now — especially with regard to Sudan, and Tibet, and Taiwan — I can't support them. Which is hard for me to say. I guess my moral convictions are stronger than any nationalist feeling.
— Ziwei Hu, senior, political economy of industrial societies, hometown: Davis, CA
It's good that China gets to host the Olympics; it's the first time it's ever done such a big event. The protesters have a legitimate reason for protesting — Tibet and all the things happening over there. It's been known for a long time how China doesn’t have the best rights for its citizens.
I don't agree with the Parisian protest, trying to extinguish the flame, people being really aggressive. It's one thing to have a peaceful protest; it’s another thing to have a full-on riot.... If the Olympic Committee foresaw protests happening, they maybe shouldn't have picked Beijing as the Olympic site.
— Alvin Vong, senior, integrative biology
Hometown: Daly City
I think it's legitimate that the protests are happening right now, and I’m really pleased with what happened in Paris. I think protesting is the only way that we’re going to show the Chinese government that it’s not OK to restrict freedom of the press, it's not OK to restrict human rights. With the "Great Fire Wall" they have, you can’t even Google the word "democracy."
There's also problems with detentions and how they treat their own citizens and how police force and coercive force is executed by the government. Also their oil deals with Sudan — I think that's absolutely unforgivable. Additionally, China's environment standards are also really deplorable. For example, it hasn't banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). We think "Oh, nobody uses CFCs anymore." But as China continues to industrialize, their air conditioners use CFCs.
— Ariel Boone, freshman, music and political science Hometown: Davis, CA
I support the Olympics in China and I think it's really cool that they're having it there. I know a lot of students here at Berkeley also support the Olympics. My parents were born in China. I don't know the basis for the protests.
— Jason Liu, freshman, intended
The true sense of the Olympics is fair play, athletic skill. I don’t think protest against China has a place in the Olympics. It's not something that's based around something political. It’s a common bond between people. People here play basketball; people there play basketball. It's just athletics.
Of course human rights in China is a shaky subject. But that's true of every country. If you go to India, it's the biggest democracy, but they have plenty of riots, ethnic violence. And if you go to the America, there's still racism today. Every place has its problems, and China is in its development stage right now, so the government is in a more authoritarian rule. That's how it's going to be for now. And then everything progresses. Over time the human-rights aspect will be identified; it takes place over time.
— Serge Singh, freshman, pre-business
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
To learn lots more about Berkeley's undergraduate student body, see "The undergrad lowdown."