Presidential candidate McCain calls on China to release Tibetan prisoners (that would be everyone in Tibet, right?):

After a 45-minute meeting with the Dalai Lama, McCain said the Beijing Olympic Games in August provide an opportunity for China to demonstrate it recognises human rights.

He also said the Dalai Lama is merely seeking basic rights to preserve Tibetan culture, language and religion.

“That’s why I’m so disappointed by repeated statements by Chinese officials that ascribe to the Dalai Lama views and actions divorced from what he actually represents. Such rhetoric doesn’t serve a cause of peaceful change and reconciliation,” McCain said.

Perhaps McCain’s protests might carry more weight if we didn’t have our own system of holding innocents at Guantanamo, in prison ships, and in illegal prisons all over Europe. The US cannot call for moral change in others until it cleans up its own house, a point apparently lost on the Right. But as the recent experience of Obama in Berlin showed, there is a vast audience waiting for the US to lead, if we carry out the housecleaning the nation needs so desperately.

Meanwhile, in the Congo, it’s China playing the role of King Leopold all over again. Surprisingly this long piece is in Bloomberg:

In reality, Adon and his peers practice a chaotic form of capitalism, with little supervision from either the company or the state. The hand diggers aren’t employees; they’re freelancers who sell what they’ve dug and cleaned to brokers such as Patrick Nsumba.

The middleman pays Adon to wash the copper ore, which the man sells to a smelter in Lubumbashi, Katanga’s capital. The plant is run by a unit of Tongxiang, China-based Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co., which processes Katangan copper and cobalt. With wads of Congolese francs on hand, Zhejiang Huayou’s representatives buy ore from people like 29-year-old Nsumba.

“This is one of the worst forms of child labor,” says Joost Kooijmans, a legal officer at the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. “If they’re buying ore processed by children, they’re involved in violating the rights of the children.”

The article correctly emphasizes that these practices that others condemn are in fact simply the first step in global supply chains that terminate with Western consumers. David Kilgour alludes to this in his recent talk at the Washington Rotary Club on engaging China more effectively.

The Olympic Games and human rights movements worldwide share the same goals: respect, unity, dignity and equality among the entire human family. When these are violated by a host government, the Olympic ideal is dishonoured.

As consumers, we might all begin to ask serious questions to the corporate sponsors of the Games, including Coca Cola, Manulife, Visa, Kodak, Samsung, Panasonic, Omega, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, General Electric and John Hancock. Silence from them and the many other business sponsors and partners to the Games–63 in all—implies acquiescence with what is going on across China.

Kilgour’s speech is well worth reading. It was he who helped bring the story of organ harvesting of Falun Gongers to the world’s attention, and to make changes in organ tourism in China.