Are the Olympics good for democracy? Many South Koreans credit the 1988 Games with helping to bring about the country’s transition from the military dictatorships that followed the Korean War to its modern democratic government. It is not an unreasonable idea. As the citizens of an unfree country are exposed to millions of foreign visitors, unruly media and the tenets of liberty — or so the argument goes — they begin to imagine a different future for themselves. Alas, it seems from the media coverage that the Olympics in China have, if anything, led to more restrictions on citizens, not fewer. Perhaps it is only internal pressure, not external forces, that can lead China to undergo a similar transformation.
One of the most important dissenting voices in China today belongs to Peter Zhao, a Communist Party member and adviser to the Chinese Central Committee. Mr. Zhao is among a group of Chinese intellectuals who look to the West to find the key to economic success. Mr. Zhao in particular believes that Christianity and the ethical system based upon its teachings are the reason that Western countries dominate the global economy. “The strong U.S. economy is just on the surface,” he says. “The backbone is the moral foundation.”
Without a unifying moral system enforced by common values, Mr. Zhao argues, there can be no real trust between people. Without faith among business partners and between management and shareholders, only the threat of the law can keep people honest. “There are problems of corruption emerging. . . . There is concern about whether China’s market economy will ever become a sound market economy.”
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