As an excellent article in the French revolutionary weekly Rouge (31 July) documents, the Olympics have been a major political self-boosting operation for the Chinese regime.
The Associated Press report for the opening day, 8 August, sums up the line: "China comes of age in stunning style... China commandeered the world stage on Friday, celebrating its first-time role as Olympic host with a stunning display of pageantry and pyrotechnics... Now ascendant as a global power, China welcomed scores of world leaders to an opening ceremony..."
Repression in Tibet? Denial of all democratic and workers’ rights? Public executions? No problem. All the world leaders were in Beijing to applaud.
Some, like George Bush, had to placate home opinion with polite words disapproving Chinese totalitarianism...
And for Socialist Worker, bizarrely, that is the great evil of the Olympics! Not that the Chinese tyranny has been boosted, but that US opinion made Bush say some words of demur!
SW of 16 August flags up, on its front page, an article by Alex Callinicos denouncing "the West's hypocrisy over human rights". Callinicos's point is not to demand that the USA should apply more consistently at home the freedoms Bush advocated for China, but to declare that "the orgy of China-bashing surrounding the Beijing Olympics is enough to make one spew".
China isn't perfect, he conceded. "It is ruled by an authoritarian Stalinist regime". But that's not the point.
"The democratic credentials of many of China's critics don't stand up to serious examination". The real story is that China's economic growth is "destabilising the existing global balance of power". Criticism of Chinese repression is sour grapes from older hegemonic powers like the USA.
Callinicos concludes by suggesting, in rather exultant tones, that if China is challenging the USA, then it must be good. "Things have changed... The West faces challengers increasingly confident of their own strength. If they're pushed too hard... they'll bite back".
It is the same method the SWP has used on Milosevic, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, the Mahdi Army in Iraq, Hamas, and the rest: if they fight the USA, they are broadly on the right side, and any sins are secondary. "Anti-imperialism" as a way of deflecting criticism of tyranny.