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U.S. says Beijing faces seven years of 'supervision'

Colin Powell says accession to the World Trade Organization will help open up China to the rest of the world
Colin Powell says accession to the World Trade Organization will help open up China to the rest of the world  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says handing the Olympics to Beijing has placed China under "seven years of supervision".

In the first detailed reaction to the announcement that Beijing would host the 2008 Olympics, Powell told the newspaper USA Today that the international community would scrutinize Beijing even harder in the lead-up to the games.

"I hope they know what they got," the newspaper quotes Powell as saying.

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"Any time there is a problem that draws the attention of the international community in a negative way towards China, the Olympics will come up again," he says.

The newspaper asks Powell if he thinks the Olympics in Beijing might have the same affect as the 1998 games held in Seoul, which many believe helped push South Korea towards democracy.

High hopes

"That's my hope," he says.

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has been careful not to take a position on the International Olympic Committee's selection of Beijing to host the 2008 games.

"We understand that this was a decision for the IOC to take. American athletes are going to go there and compete, hopefully very well," said U.S. National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice immediately after the announcement.

Relations between the U.S. and China are at a particularly fragile stage following the recent spy plane standoff on China's Hainan Island, the sale of U.S. military hardware Taiwan and with Beijing objecting to Washington's plans for a missile defense shield.

China is also on the verge of joining the World Trade Organization, which both sides are adamant will not be derailed by diplomatic spats.

The USA Today interview quotes Powell as saying that come the 2008 Olympics, China's government "will have seen the benefit of accession to the World Trade Organization and how that has helped" open up the nation's economy.

Mixed reactions

Other groups have been less equivocal about the selection of Beijing to host the 2008 games, with human rights campaigners unhappy that the IOC overlooked China's controversial treatment of Tibet, it's high number of executions and suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

"We deeply regret that Beijing is awarded the 2008 Olympic Games," spokesman for the India-based Central Tibetan Administration Kalon T.C. Tethong said in a statement.

Beijing erupted into cheers when it was announced as the host of the 2008 Olympics
Beijing erupted into cheers when it was announced as the host of the 2008 Olympics  

"This will put the stamp of international approval on Beijing's human rights abuses and will encourage China to escalate its repression," he said.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International, refusing to either welcome or condemn the decision, urged China to improve its human rights policies.

"Considering the escalation in serious and widespread human rights violations over the past three years, the Chinese authorities have a long way to go to demonstrate a healthy and basic respect for human rights," Amnesty said in a press statement.

• Beijing 2008

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