"The 2008 Olympics will 'open up' China about as effectively as the 1936 Olympics opened up Germany," said Robert Tracinski in 2001. Recent events in Burma and Tibet and the ongoing human rights abuses and continuing existence of slave labour gulags show he and other commentators making similar points were right. With the Olympics just months away, Chinese politics now looks little different to Chinese politics at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The chief question for New Zealanders to consider as we read news of Buddhist monks being shot on the streets of Lhasa is whether free trade will 'open up' China more effectively than the Olympics.
I have my own views on that, but I'd be interested in hearing others. What do you think? Given that the chief importance of a NZ-China free trade deal to the Chinese is their hope that our deal will presage others, what do you think the effect of free trade with China will have on China itself?
I'd love to hear your views in the comments.