When the Beijing Olympic Games open next week, there will be speeches about international peace and fellowship in sport. Yet the stage for this event is a largely unreformed communist state whose human rights record, highlighted this week by Amnesty International (AI), is one of the world’s poorest. Even worse has been the treatment of residents who protested against evictions related to stadium development. They have been held in secret detention centres and labour camps that have no basis in Chinese law and there is evidence of torture. Furthermore, a high proportion of the world’s capital punishment cases are found in China, which also denies basic freedoms of information and religion.