China's Olympic Shame

China's crackdown has emboldened critics around the world. Why Beijing is blowing it

Justin Sullivan / Getty

Anti-China protesters hang banners as they scale the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Why didn't they see this coming? Despite more than seven years' worth of meticulous, down-to-the-last-detail planning that has gone into the Beijing Olympics, China's leaders have seemingly been caught off guard by the most predictable of challenges: discontent in Tibet and international condemnation of Beijing's record of repression. The extent of their surprise can be gauged by their reaction--a brutal crackdown on dissent at home and a deaf ear to criticism from abroad--which is more reminiscent of the heavy-handed communist regime of old than the modern, moderate Beijing that the Olympics are meant to showcase.

China's response to the mid-March riots...

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