Many of you have asked about my thoughts on China hosting the XXIX Olympiad. I recall feeling disappointed when the International Olympic Committee made its decision to award the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing on July 13, 2001. I, as most of the world, had fresh memories of Tienanmen Square and reading articles about people improperly detained, free speech restrictions, and other human rights abuses.
From a development perspective, China has worked hard to prepare hosting the world. The Chinese government carefully orchestrated the construction of state of the art facilities. Although we are seeing a great haze over the city, Beijing should be given credit for taking significant steps to curb its air pollution.
With China under a microscope, as most host countries are during the Olympics, I hope the Middle Kingdom will reform itself and with an openness for freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. It is disturbing to hear accounts of police crackdowns on protesters and obstructions of journalists from reporting covering the protests. Moreover, as a person who uses the Internet as a vehicle to promote sustainable solutions to resolve social, political, and economic problems, I am deeply troubled by the ongoing censorship China has maintained leading up to the Olympics.
China has changed to become a global power--politically, economically, and militarily. We, the democratic world, need China as much as China needs us. Perhaps the world's democratic nations will use economic carrots to persuade China to become a more open society. Countries such as India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia are modernizing and competing with China to attract foreign direct investment. As entrepreneurs, we have options to enter other markets beyond China and the power within these options should be used as a means to encourage China to accept openness among its citizens.
I wish China the best of luck for a safe and successful Olympic games. It is an amazing country to visit, an exciting market to conduct business in, and any reforms will only enhance the uniqueness China has to offer the world.
Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.