Pro-Tibet, Anti-China

If Olympic sponsors think people have forgotten about the recent turmoil in Tibet (and the resulting protests elsewhere), they need to get a grip. In a new Financial Times/Harris Poll, pluralities of respondents in the U.S., Europe and Japan said they don’t want their own nation’s leader to attend the opening of the Games.

In the U.S., 43 percent opposed their president’s attendance at the opening, vs. 36 percent supporting it. (The rest were unsure.) In France, an outright majority (54 percent) said they don’t want their leader to attend. The same was true of Germany, where 55 percent were opposed. Nor is such sentiment confined to Euro-American sensibilities. In Japan, 45 percent of respondents said they don’t want their national leader to attend the Olympic opening.

The poll also asked people to say how much (if anything) they’d heard “about the recent global protests surrounding the freeing of Tibet from Chinese rule.” In the countries covered by the poll, the percent saying they’d heard “a lot” ranged 20 percent in Spain to 84 percent in France. In the U.S., 41 percent said they’d heard a lot about the protests.

The poll provided one further indication of widespread antipathy toward China on the subject of Tibet. Asked whether Tibet should be “a sovereign nation not under Chinese rule” or should remain as a “region of China,” majorities took the former view. The free-Tibet vote was lowest in Britain (53 percent) and the U.S. (59 percent) and highest in Italy (75 percent) and Germany (74 percent). Fewer than 10 percent in any of the countries said Tibet should remain under China’s rule. (The “not sure” tally was much larger on this question.)