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Don’t let China use the Olympics to continue to obfuscate their true intentions

The 2022 Winter Olympics torch is brought into the Beijing stadium by Dinigeer Yilamujian and Zhao Jiawen
Associated Press/Jae C. Hong

A year ago, I wrote a letter to President Biden imploring him to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Citing his own administration’s determination that China was committing a genocide upon its own people, I asserted that sending our athletes and providing the tacit support to U.S. companies to sponsor an Olympic games in a country that was committing genocide would have catastrophic effects on the diplomatic norms of the world. Additionally, this would empower China to further its march towards an authoritarian state acting with impunity on the global stage. I closed the letter by stating, “China expects the rest of the world to be silent and, in the case of business operations and global supply chains, complicit in their actions.”

Today, we are participating in an Olympic Games that embody the very silence and complicity about which I was so concerned. As athletes from around the world gather in Beijing, they face travel restrictions, goods shortages and logistical calamities in the country from which COVID-19 initially emerged and is still beset by the world’s harshest lock downs and waves of unmanaged COVID cases. They will be the tools in a global farce aimed at portraying China as a benevolent, functional and futurist society whose ascendance to the height of the global order is inevitable. This is a preposterous reality to which the Biden administration’s failed policies have made America a party.

Countries around the world have publicly informed their athletes that they will be spied upon with no expectation of personal privacy and that any communication or data will almost certainly be stolen. The evidence of this is irrefutable. In fact, the app all athletes are required to download to simply exist in the Olympic Village has already been exposed to have a myriad of technical flaws and surveillance technology built into it, ready to deploy with a simple software update.

China has gone to extensive lengths to ensure that the facade of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be pristine and expertly curated for the world to see through their domestic media, which, in many cases, has opted to send no reporters to bear witness with their own eyes and ears to the reality on the ground. Those brave enough to have tried to mount any protest to the CCP and its ever-increasing authoritarianism, have already been rounded up and jailed by the tens of thousands in what have been dubbed “black jails,” so named for their intense secrecy. Like the Uyghurs, the fate of those people is unknowable to the outside world, yet is standard practice for the CCP.

Over the last year, as the Olympics and its platform for global publicity drew closer, we saw China move further and further from democratic norms. The issuance of so called “lists of errors,” followed by “lists of grievances,” to the United States, our ally Australia, and several other nations around the world set the tone. Nearly 365 days later, the catalogue of reasons why these games should never have been allowed to happen in China has only grown. Be it massive cyber-attacks, the overt economic coercion of countries around the world, military aggression toward Taiwan, or the continued and unapologetic genocide of Uyghurs within their own borders and the ceaseless persecution of dissidents globally — these games are a tragedy of cognitive dissonance by the democratic nations of the world.

The 2022 Winter Olympics is happening. The coverage is being broadcast all over the world and the CCP will manipulate these images for its own benefit the entire time. Every shred of evidence will tell us what we are seeing are lies. We must use this charade of global proportion to shatter China’s ability to obfuscate what it really is and what that means for democracy, human rights, and capitalism going forward. 

John Katko is ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Tags Beijing Olympics boycott China human rights abuses Concerns and controversies at the 2022 Winter Olympics Joe Biden John Katko

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