The Olympic games have long served as a platform for political debate and ideological expression, and the 2008 Beijing games were no exception. The United States Olympic team selection of “Lost Boy of Sudan” and Team Darfur spokesperson Lopez Lomong as its flag bearer made this eminently visible. This article explores the links between the Olympics and global citizenship through examining how the 2008 Beijing games became an international platform for critiques of China's political and economic relationships with Sudan, in light of the continued civil war ravaging the Darfur region. First, it examines how the critiques of China's role in Darfur mirrored the discursive premises of an international relations theory known as “good international citizenship” that accused China of forsaking its global moral responsibilities in favor of enhancing its private economic concerns, thus exacerbating human rights in Darfur. Second, it examines how China offered a traditional Confucian concept of “harmonious society” as a theory of international relations that stresses nation-state sovereignty or privacy (China's nominal policy of noninterference) and mutual economic development. While on the surface, these two approaches to responsible citizenship differ, this article argues 1) that even as China is critiqued, through the Olympics venue, for its “inadequate” global citizenship in Darfur, the Olympic lens through which it is appraised and found lacking mirrors the very reason it has achieved global prominence — its economic growth and market privatization; and 2) that despite the classic Confucian language of China's own configuration of responsible global citizenship, its model does not merely reflect some essentialist concept of cultural China but rather lays bare the oftentimes opaque global economic coding of the rhetoric of stakeholding in which capitalist market praxis is philosophically configured as a means to the ends of moral governance and progressive change.
Skip Nav Destination
Jennifer Hubbert; The Darfur Olympics: Global Citizenship and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. positions 1 February 2014; 22 (1): 203–236. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2383894
Download citation file: