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The Olympics: The Foremost Political Task Facing the Party and the State

Beijing has repeatedly stated that the West is politicizing the Olympics Games. Many including President Bush also believe that the Olympics is all about sports. However, published speeches by the Communist Party and government officials call for prioritizing preparations for the Olympics as a national political task. A successful Olympics is a political task for the Party buildup, airport security, environment protection, transportation, the judiciary and digital broadcast of TV, just to name a few.

Chinese officials and state media recently warned the West not to “politicize the Olympics” when people demanded that Beijing improve human rights conditions in China before the 2008 Olympics. However, one Chinese newspaper raised concerns over the “politicization of the Olympics” in a different way: it’s becoming a political task that supersedes and overrides everything else.

Nanfang Daily, a newspaper based in Guangzhou, China, commented, “We need to be alert to another kind of politicization. That is, to treat the ‘Olympics’ as a political performance project, as a political movement, as a political correctness overriding everything, at the cost of overextending executive powers, overextending public resources, overextending public enthusiasm, and overextending the suppression of the rights of the people.”

Nanfang Daily’s concern is not without reason. Back in early 2007, Party Secretary Hu Jingtao stated that the successful hosting of the Olympics would impact the entire country and have tremendous significance in furthering national development and improving the nation’s image.[1] The Communist Party has tied the Olympics to its own image and made the success of the Beijing Olympics a central task of the Party. The following is a translation of quotes by the Party and government officials that call for prioritizing preparations for the Olympics as a national political task.

“Successful hosting of the Olympic Games is a matter of the nation’s reputation and image, the Party’s influence and prestige, and the long-term development of the Capital, with paramount political significance.” This quote is from The Opinion of Organization Department of Beijing Municipal CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Committee on the Core and Backbone Role of Municipal Leadership and Party Cadres in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games issued on February 27 by the Office of the Beijing Municipal Communist Party Committee. [2]

“The Beijing Communist Party in 2008 must be centered on the political task of preparing for the Olympics so as to provide strong political and organizational guarantees,” according to Liu Qi, the secretary of Beijing Communist Party Committee at the Organization Working Meeting of the Beijing Communist Party Committee, March 1, 2008. [3]

“The 2008 Olympics are inseparable from national politics and national security. We must carry out Olympics security as a serious political task and sincerely and deeply understand the toughness and urgency of the preparations needed for the Olympics,” said Liu Qi at the Thirteenth Working Meeting of the Beijing Olympics Security Coordination Office, January 16, 2008. [4]

“Transportation departments at all levels must take [road traffic and transportation during the Olympics] as priority and organize diligently, must take it as an important operation and political task in 2007 and 2008 to perfectly accomplish the assurance of transportation service at the Olympics at any cost.” Quoted from Beijing Implementation Plan of road traffic protection and transport services for the Beijing Olympics and Its Test Events, August 3, 2008. [5]

“Yang Yuan, Director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, specifically emphasized in his speech that we should successfully and solidly carry out security for the Olympics as a political task. In accordance with the ‘offensive in the air, defensive on the ground, and purify internally,’ we should earnestly clarify the responsibilities of each to further solidify the foundations of Olympic security provided by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.” From the No. 6 Working Bulletin of Coordination Committee Office, Civil Aviation Administration of China, published February 4, 2008. [6]

“We all have realized that improvement of the environment for the Olympics is a political task entrusted to us by the Central Committee of the Party and the State Council…” according to Li Shousheng, Director of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, at the Implementation Meeting of Environmental Improvement for the Olympics, April 24, 2007. [7]

“Baoding, a close neighbor to Beijing, bears an unshirkable responsibility to support and ensure the success of the Olympics. We should take it as a political task that must be successfully accomplished… The protection and treatment of air quality is the political task that guarantees the success of the Beijing Olympics… We must raise it to the level of politics…” A quote from Cao Rushou, Baoding Mayor, at the kick-off meeting of Baoding Air Quality and Protection, January 9, 2008. [8]

“Wang Jianping, chief of the Riot Police, visited Tianjin to inspect preparations for Olympics security and issued an important directive. Tianjin is a host city for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, not the center but capable of impacting the center. Tianjin must take Olympics security as a major political task, with the Party Committee in charge as the overall command, …” from Northern Daily, March 13, 2008. [9]

“It is a major political task of the entire system of [the Beijing Commerce Bureau] to strive to achieve success for the ‘Good Luck Olympics’” “All work units shall take as their number one political responsibility and political task to ensure smooth operations of the Good Luck Olympics, with firm political awareness,..” Quotes are from the Beijing Commerce Bureau Notice on Distributing “Implementation Opinion on Deeply Carrying Out Good Luck Olympics Campaign of Beijing Commerce Bureau,” February 4, 2008. [10]

“It is the major political responsibility of the Capital’s judiciary, procuratorate, and law enforcement system to successfully carry out security for the Olympics,” announced Wang Anshun, deputy secretary of Beijing Communist Party Committee and Secretary of Politics and Law Committee of the Communist Party, January 11, 2008. [11]

“Zhang Yunchuan [the Hebei Provincial Communist Party Secretary] has directed that everyone in the political, judiciary, and law enforcement systems must take the smooth progress of the Olympics as top priority.” Xinhua, January 8, 2008. [12]

“[The Ministry of Environmental Protection] must take the implementation of the 29th Olympic Games Beijing Air Quality Protection Measures as a political task and ensure the successful completion of its implementation,” commented Zhang Lijun, deputy director of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, February 2, 2008. [13]

“The Central Committee of the Party and the State Council require that we launch terrestrial digital television broadcasting during the Olympics. This initiative is a political task.” Quote by Zhang Haitao, deputy director of China State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, February 20, 2008. [14]