A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he stands in front of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logos at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, China on April 9, 2021.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., On Tuesday called for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in response to China’s human rights record.
“We cannot pretend there is nothing wrong with the Olympics in China,” Pelosi told the Congress Human Rights Commission and the Congressional Executive Commission for China during a hearing on the Games.
Pelosi suggested in her remarks that athletes should still be able to take part in the Games, but that the leaders and kings of the world should not travel to attend them in person.
“When heads of state go to China in the face of a genocide that is going on while you are in your seats, the real question is, what moral authority do you need to speak about human rights anywhere in the world when you are ready, the Chinese government? To show her respect when she commits genocide? “
Pelosi has beaten corporate sponsors of the Games, who “look the other way at China’s abuses out of concern for their bottom line.” She specifically called on companies that are reportedly campaigning to weaken parts of a bipartisan law aimed at the use of forced labor in the Xinjiang region.
“If we do not speak out against human rights violations in China for commercial reasons, we will lose all moral authority to stand up for human rights anywhere,” said Pelosi.
The games are scheduled to open on February 4, 2022.
Pelosi acknowledged that their proposed diplomatic boycott may not work. “I don’t know if it’s possible because we haven’t done it in the past,” she said.
In 2008, Pelosi called on then-President George W. Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing to protest against China’s human rights record, which at the time was largely marred by the government’s actions in Tibet.
Bush attended the opening of these games along with more than 80 other heads of state.
Activists and lawmakers from both parties have called on President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2022 Olympics in protest. They cite China’s reported treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang – which has been labeled genocide by both the Trump and Biden administrations – and Beijing’s response to protests in Hong Kong.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee has said it opposes boycotts, including because they affect athletes who have trained for years to compete.
The White House previously left the door open for a boycott, but press secretary Jen Psaki said last month that such a move would not be discussed.
“While China has changed in some ways over 30 years, it is appalling that its human rights record has deteriorated,” Pelosi said in the virtual hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
Pelosi stressed that she is a dedicated Olympic fan and that the athletes’ performance in the Games is a source of pride.
“Let’s honor them at home,” said Pelosi. “Let’s not honor the Chinese government by letting heads of state go to China to show their support for their athletes.”
“Silence on this issue is unacceptable. It enables China’s abuse,” Pelosi said.