Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) lamented President Joe Biden’s decision to allow the U.S. team to play in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Tuesday, calling it “an exceedingly weak gesture in response to a genocidal regime.”
Human rights activists and the victims of the Chinese Communist Party initially urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone and relocate the Olympics outside of China in response to China’s human rights atrocities. The Chinese Communist Party under dictator Xi Jinping is arguably the world’s most prolific human rights abuser, systematically repressing millions of people – particularly political dissidents, religious believers, and members of ethnic minorities.
Both the administrations of Presidents Donald Trump and Biden have formally declared China’s policies to exterminate the Uyghur people of East Turkistan a genocide. The Uyghurs have faced, since at least 2017, mass internment in concentration camps, forced abortions and sterilizations, slavery, torture, indoctrination, and testing consistent with live organ harvesting. At their peak in 2019, the U.S. government estimated that the Chinese government had trapped as many as 3 million people, most of them Uyghurs but some members of other ethnic minorities, in concentration camps.
The IOC has aggressively defended its choice of China as an Olympics host, insisting in response to human rights concerns, “we are not a world government.”
The Biden administration, facing growing pressure not to honor China with America’s presence at the event, announced this week through White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that the United States would not boycott the event. Psaki stated that American athletes, but not politicians, would attend, branding the absence of American officials a “diplomatic boycott” that sent China a “clear message.”
The Chinese government, through both the Foreign Ministry and its English-language propaganda arms, has countered by noting that Beijing never invited American diplomats to the Games, so they could not “boycott” the event. Regarding “diplomatic” non-boycotts in general, the state-run Global Times asserted on Wednesday, “nobody cares.”
“Yesterday the Biden Administration announced a ‘Diplomatic Boycott’ of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, to be held in Beijing,” Smith said in remarks at an event alongside the Chinese Christian organization China Aid. “Rather than applauding this, however, we should recognize it for what it is: an exceedingly weak gesture in response to a genocidal regime, which is increasingly acting as if it has no place within the community of civilized nations, with its bullying of other nations—most recently, brave Lithuania.”
The whole world should ask #CCPXi #WhereIsGaoZhisheng missing 4 1/2 yrs! #HowIsZhangZhan? Dying in same Shanghai prison as #LinZhao 全世界應該拷問習近平:#高智晟在哪裡？#張展怎樣了？#是生是死？必須立即交代！#自由張展 #自由高智晟 #自由千萬中共獄中良心犯 感謝昨天光臨會場和場外聲援 pic.twitter.com/bM5QC8RZTP
— Bob Fu 傅希秋 (@BobFu4China) December 8, 2021
China recently threatened Lithuania and limited its diplomatic relationship with the Baltic country over Lithuanian politicians acknowledging the reality that Taiwan is a country.
Smith’s remarks were reproduced as a column in the local online outlet New Jersey Globe.
Smith accused the Biden administration, citing an article in the Washington Post, of attempting to prevent the passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bill that has languished in Congress in years that would prevent American companies from importing goods from East Turkistan, the Uyghur region China refers to as Xinjiang, unless they prove with concrete evidence that slaves did not cultivate or manufacture the goods.
The Uyghur bill has been circulating in Congress for months despite receiving bipartisan support. Reports indicate extensive lobbying from large multinational corporations has prevented it from becoming law. Corporations that have expressed opposition to the bill argue that it effectively bans all imports from East Turkistan, as companies would have to invest heavily in proving that items are not made with slave labor to have them enter the country.
The use of Uyghur slave labor in China is widespread and state-sponsored. A 2020 report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) identified 83 global corporations, including dozens of household American names, as working with factories that have ties to Uyghur slave labor.
Smith, alongside Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), reintroduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in the House of Representatives in February.
“This is the background of the ‘Diplomatic Boycott’ that was announced yesterday — a weak response by a weak Administration,” Rep. Smith said, “which left American citizens behind and abandoned our allies in Afghanistan, and whose resolve is being tested now the world over.”
Rep. Smith, along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), proposed in a letter written to the IOC in October that China should not only lose its hosting privileges but that the IOC should ban its athletes from competition.
“No Olympics should be held in a country whose government is committing genocide,” the letter read in part. “Moreover, if the IOC is serious about fidelity to the Olympic Charter, the IOC must then prohibit the PRC [People’s Republic of China] team from participating in the games on account of the flagrant violations of the Olympic Charter committed by the PRC authorities.”
The Congressman also condemned the Beijing Olympics corporate sponsors, who universally rejected calls for a boycott. Among them are some of the world’s largest companies: Intel, Visa, AirBnb, and Coca-Cola all have Olympic “partner” status, the highest level of sponsorship.
“So many of our corporations, so ready to virtue signal about ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ initiatives and ‘Environmental Social and Governance’ principles, from the NBA to Apple, nonetheless kowtow to Communist China,” Smith said.
“Xi Jinping should be at the Hague for crimes against humanity and genocide — not feted as host of the Olympics,” Rep. Smith asserted in his remarks.
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