I'm back. In the past month, many of you may have seen all kinds of calls for protest and activism in support of the monks and citizens of Burma as they protested the military dictatorship. The most prevalent--and most idiotic--of these is the call to threaten to Boycott the 2008 Olympics in Beijing if China doesn't exert pressure on Burma to democratize. How is this stupid? Let me count the ways: 1) Lots of people have cited China as the biggest foreign economic influence in Burma. False. In fact, there are several countries with more economic influence, depending on how you want to gauge it. Let's check the numbers: Export Markets (% of total) India 12.5 Singapore 10.8 China 10.4 Thailand 5.0 Japan 5.0 Import Sources (% of total) Singapore 27.7 Thailand 12.9 Japan 11.6 China 11.3 Malaysia 6.2 Direct Foreign Investment, 2000 (in billions USD) UK 176.1 France 33.0 Japan 18.8 Malaysia 15.5 South Korea 8.8 USA 0.8 China 0.0 (source: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Tables and Data.htm) Yup. Total bullshit. 2) Even if China were to intervene and stop importing/exporting with the Burmese government, big and still developing investors like Thailand and India would be sure to snatch up any contracts China abandoned almost instantaneously. Burma is actually full of valuable resources, including (but not limited to) oil. Anyone who think's Burma's government is going to have a hard time selling their oil just because China steps out of the game is an idiot. 3) A boycott of the 2008 Olympics harms relations with China, and harms the Chinese people. Beijing is already somewhat annoyed with Washington at the moment becuase President Bush formally recieved the Dalai Lama in the White House (the first time that's ever happened). A boycott would weaken Sino-US relations, and additionally harm the Chinese economy (and thereby, people). Given that what everyone is bothered by is what the BURMESE govenment is doing, that seems stupid. 4) Chinese intervention--even intervention beyond economic divestment--is unlikely to produce results. Short of some kind of military action, the military junta in Burma is not likely to give up control of the government, and even if it did, the military has controlled the Burmese government for the last 30+ years. Civilians in Burma have no government experience whatsoever, a switch of governments in Burma's current state would almost certainly lead to economic collapse, which just further harms the Burmese people. In conclusion, shut the fuck up and stop blaming China for random shit that happens in Asia just because they're "socialists". Their government does plenty of insane shit on its own, there's no need to blame it for things that other governments do that they have virtually no control over. Boycotting the 2008 Olympics won't help Burma, China, or any other country.