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Reps. Reschenthaler & Waltz: US should boycott China's Winter Olympics – don't reward genocide, rights abuses

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The United States, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and nations throughout the world should hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for their horrific human rights violations by rebidding the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. 

Last month, the U.S. Department of State determined that the CCP is committing genocide and human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken agrees, stating during his confirmation hearing that “forcing men, women and children into concentration camps, trying to in effect reeducate them to be adherents to the Chinese Communist Party – all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide.” 

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Since at least March 2017, China has detained and persecuted approximately 1.8 million Turkic Muslims, including ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz, in “political reeducation” centers. Muslim minorities are held without due process in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and coerced into disavowing their religious beliefs. 

They are subjected to forced labor, deprived of food and other basic needs, and suffer from atrocities like torture and organ harvesting. Women in Xinjiang face even harsher treatment, as the CCP attempts to eliminate minority peoples through forced abortion and sterilization. 

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China’s human rights violations do not end there.  

Chinese authorities continue to persecute and repress the Tibetan people for their religion, language and culture.  

Last summer in Hong Kong, China’s legislature passed an illegal national security law restricting basic political rights and authorizing severe punishments for any Hong Konger accused of these ambiguous crimes.  

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The world cannot stand by and allow China to continue these egregious human rights violations. 

This is why we have introduced a resolution in Congress urging the IOC to move the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. If the Games are not moved, our resolution call for the United States to lead an international boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games. 

To date, the Australian Parliament debated boycotting the 2022 Games, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary suggested it and members of Parliament called for it. The Washington Post editorial board and dozens of human rights organizations support these efforts. 

It is time we take action.  

There is precedent for an international boycott of the Olympic Games.  

Autocratic countries have attempted to leverage hosting the Olympics into legitimizing their stances among the global community.

Following the 1979 Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan and their blatant disregard of international law and human rights, the United States led a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Sixty-five nations joined the protest, including South Korea, Canada, West Germany and Israel. 

Months prior, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the transfer or cancellation of the 1980 Games. If those efforts failed, the resolution supported a boycott and alternate games. Congress, the administration and the U.S. Olympic Committee acted in 1980, and we must act again today.  

Autocratic countries have attempted to leverage hosting the Olympics into legitimizing their stances among the global community. When the United States participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, it emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin. Less than a month after closing ceremonies, Putin invaded Crimea in Ukraine. 

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In 2008, the world gave China a pass when they hosted the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Since then, the CCP has escalated its authoritarianism and expanded its reach beyond the Chinese mainland. 

We must not make the same mistake again.  

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Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican, represents Florida’s 6th District. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee, a Green Beret veteran of the war on terror in Afghanistan, a former White House counterterrorism policy adviser and author of the book “Warrior Diplomat: a Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan.”

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