Wei Jingsheng: U.S. Should Lead Boycott of Beijing Olympics

With more than half a year to go before the Beijing Winter Olympics, Western countries, especially the United States, are still hesitant to boycott. And all human rights organizations are calling for a boycott. In such a great situation, the U.S. should take a leadership role, otherwise it will go against the recent two administrations’ tough policies against the Chinese Communist Party, and will disappoint the world and further reduce the global leadership of the U.S.

Should totalitarian countries with poor human rights be resisted from using the Olympics for propaganda? This is a moral issue, not a question of calculating interests. The interests and difficulties of a few people should not be used as a reason to abandon the basic moral position of human beings. The basic principles of democratic countries are invariably based on morality. Abandoning basic morality with petty interests, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes all over the world are snickering, which is one of the reasons for the global decline of democracy.

Before the last Summer Olympics in Beijing, human rights groups around the world were influenced by donors who were reluctant to boycott the Beijing Olympics, and many friends in the pro-democracy movement and the Dalai Lama’s government also developed a sense of trepidation. The Jiang Zemin government was overjoyed that the Great Foreign Propaganda would be a logical victory. At this time, the overseas pro-democracy movement held a special meeting in Australia, at which many of our friends expressed their concerns about whether our individual boycott would offend everyone and be ineffective in a situation where the world was not boycotting.

At this time, I proposed two votes. The first vote: people are foreigners, do we, as Chinese, need to be responsible for our own people and should we make our own stand? The vote was unanimous. The second vote: Since we need to be accountable to our own people, should we launch a boycott campaign for human rights in China, regardless of the gains or losses? The overwhelming majority of votes passed. The few friends who had reservations worried that: disagreement with Western governments might reduce support for democracy in China and treat us as troublemakers.

After that, friends of the pro-democracy movement scattered around the world spoke up and convinced their foreign friends to join the boycott. To the surprise of the minority pro-democracy activists, human rights organizations around the world joined the boycott in varying numbers; politicians and scholars from various countries also spoke out, either condemning the CCP’s disregard for human rights or asking their own governments to boycott the Beijing Olympics. Tibetan friends were the most prominent, risking jail time to confront the police, and even risking breaking out of the crowd and rushing to the torchlight parade.

Under the pressure of this situation, President Bush Jr. met with Chinese opposition figures, including Han, Tibetan and Uighur leaders, at the White House. I criticized his and the U.S. government’s position to his face. He said, “You are right to criticize, and you know I have a difficult time, and I will publicly criticize the Chinese government’s persecution of human rights during my trip to Beijing. I said I hoped he would not be surrounded by plainclothes police in Beijing so that the Chinese people would not hear his voice. As a result, he changed his schedule and made a special trip to Thailand to deliver a speech criticizing Beijing for human rights violations before flying to Beijing.

This wave of boycotts, while not a resounding victory, effectively weakened the Jiang Zemin regime’s big foreign propaganda campaign, making it much less effective. It also caused a wave of global criticism of the CCP and brought the Communist Party’s atrocities to the attention of ordinary people; it also showed the moral stance of the United States and slowed down the decline of American leadership. It should be said that it was a successful campaign.

The fact that even a small overseas pro-democracy force could cause such a big setback to the Communist Party shows the power of a moral stand. People are of one mind and one heart. The moral stand for human rights, democracy, and freedom can sometimes prevail over calculations of profit. Because it is about the long-term interests of all people, rather than the short-term interests of some.

As the old saying goes, he who wins the hearts of the people wins the world. Only by standing under the common moral banner of all mankind can we gain the approval and support of all mankind, which has been the source of U.S. global leadership for many years. On the contrary, calculating on the immediate gains and losses of interests and abandoning the common values of humanity will be the main reason for further loss of American leadership.