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NC State Experts Shed Light On China, Olympic Games

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are drawing the eyes of the world to China. That focus is not limited to athletic contests, but includes questions related to the environment, human rights, business and international affairs. North Carolina State University faculty can provide insight and expertise on the cultural, business and environmental challenges being highlighted by this summer’s Olympic Games – as well as on the games themselves.

Dr. Viney P. Aneja, professor of air quality and environmental technology, 919/515-7808 or viney_aneja@ncsu.edu, is an expert on air quality and environmental policy issues who can address some of the environmental concerns associated with holding the Olympics in Beijing.

“Clearly the Chinese are very sensitive to this issue,” Aneja says, “and my sense is that China will have the air quality under control in time for the games. However, it is less clear if China will have met its air quality goals by the time athletes begin arriving to acclimate to the area – which will likely be one month prior to the games.”

Dr. Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, 919/515-1435 or lian_xie@ncsu.edu, is a meteorologist who is developing a model to be used by Olympic organizers to predict the winds for the Olympic sailing event in Qingdao this summer. Xie says the model will help officials determine when the race should begin, or whether to hold the race on a particular day based on the wind forecast.

Dr. J. Oliver Williams, professor of political science, 919/247-4797 or jowillia@social.chass.ncsu.edu, is an expert on Sino-U.S. relations, Chinese politics, human rights and how economic change is driving democratic development in China. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar in China in 2006 and also led a United Nations team that year that worked to improve dialogue between U.N. human rights officials and the Chinese government. He traveled in Tibet in 2007, talking with Buddhist monks and young people about current affairs in that region.

Dr. Michael Schramme, associate professor of equine surgery, michael_schramme@ncsu.edu, is an expert on equine sports medicine, in particular of orthopedic diseases and surgery. He can discuss any orthopedic aspects of the equestrian events as they relate to the equine athlete, and will be on hand as a surgical member of the team of treating veterinarians of the FEI (Federation Internationale Equestre) during the games. During the games, he can be reached at the Olympic Veterinary Clinic in Hong Kong (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Equine Hospital, Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong Phone: +852 2966 6891).

Dr. Thomas Ort, assistant professor of history, 919/513-1423 or thomas_ort@ncsu.edu, is a scholar of modern European history who can address the state of international affairs at the turn of the 20th century that saw the creation of the modern Olympic games in 1896.

Dr. Robert Handfield, Bank of America Distinguished University Professor of Business Management, 919/515-4674 or robert_handfield@ncsu.edu, says that companies that currently outsource labor to China may be wrestling with whether human rights and environmental concerns should prompt a move to relocate components of their business operations. Handfield is an expert on supply chain management.

International attention on human rights and environmental issues related to the Olympics “could impact some consumer goods manufacturers, which are struggling to maintain a sustainable and ethical supply chain in China,” Handfield says. Companies do not have absolute control over all of their suppliers and subcontractors, Handfield says, and “if unappealing practices are exposed, it could really hurt companies in the marketplace.” He adds, “While the potential risks to their image are not currently preventing businesses from doing business in China, given the uncertainties that exist, some companies are now considering whether they should source more of their work domestically.”

Dr. Greg Young, faculty fellow of the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative and associate professor of business ethics and strategy, 919/515-6951 or greg_young@ncsu.edu, is an expert on how businesses build valuable reputations, manage their exposure to moral risks, and “do well by doing good.”

Young says that businesses with ties to the upcoming Olympics in Beijing are likely examining how best to proceed. “If you’re making the business decisions, how do you show your support for human rights, your respect for your host country, your good citizenship in your home country, your need for open markets, your concern for the safety of your employees, and your accountability to your shareholders – all at the same time?” He adds, “A company’s reputation has real value, but it is put to the sternest test during an event like this one. Businesses will pass the test with flying colors – and make their employees, owners and others proud – if they publicly live up to the values in their codes of conduct and ethics management programs.”

Dr. Neil Schmid, assistant professor of religious studies, 919/515-6460 or dnschmid@ncsu.edu, is an authority on Chinese language, religion and culture. He conducts research on the history of Buddhism in China and on the Silk Road.

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