U.S. lawmakers propose sanctions against Beijing Winter Olympics sponsors

International calls for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics are intensifying. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bipartisan bill that would sanction companies that sponsor the Beijing Winter Olympics. Prior to this, Speaker of the House Pelosi publicly stated that the U.S. should implement a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Winter Olympics and refuse to send a government delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Is a boycott feasible?

Bipartisan House Proposal Sanctions Companies Sponsoring the Beijing Winter Olympics

A bipartisan group of U.S. House members has introduced legislation that would prohibit companies that sponsor or do business with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics from selling their products or services to the federal government or federal facilities, including military bases.

Touching their bottom line is the only thing that will get their attention,” said Rep. Mike Waltz, a Florida Republican who sponsored the proposal. (These companies) they can either do business with the federal government or continue to sponsor the Beijing Winter Olympics. But we’re going to let them make the choice.” Another sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat and former State Department official, said, “We should not be hosting the Olympics in countries that commit genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Michael Mazza, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Washington think tank, told the station that he had written a report stating that Beijing should be denied the right to host the Winter Olympics as a sanction for many of China’s misdeeds, but it was not supported by the International Olympic Committee.

Experts: boycott will not be effective in the short term but reflects international consensus

So how can the international community take effective measures to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics and get the Chinese Communist authorities to change their policies on human rights violations?

James Millward, a professor of history at Georgetown University and an expert on Xinjiang, argues that a boycott would not necessarily have an immediate effect, but would send a message to the CCP and the shamelessly profit-seeking IOC: “If a person doesn’t eat at a restaurant because they’re boycotting it, will the boycott take effect immediately? Will the restaurant close? Not necessarily, or not immediately. At the very least, the call for a boycott expresses the world’s shock at the repression and assimilation of Uighurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere by the Han Chinese. Nor does the threat of a boycott of the Olympics necessarily cause the CCP to change its policies overnight, but it sends a strong signal to the CCP that Xi Jinping’s policies are repugnant and shocking to the democratic world.”

The UN independent panel said as recently as 2018 that it had received credible reports indicating that at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims were being held in Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang. Chinese Communist authorities describe them as vocational training centers to eliminate extremism and refute all allegations.

The International Olympic Committee could postpone the Beijing Winter Olympics for a year, which would be a prudent step for public health reasons given the new crown global pandemic and the fact that many countries will not be vaccinated by next February,” Mihalkian suggested. Beijing has a chance to reverse and begin to make up for the crackdown on Uighurs and other minorities, and if that process begins quickly, the Beijing Winter Olympics could be held more normally in 2023.”

The bill introduced in Congress on Friday explicitly directs the heads of the executive branch and the Department of Defense not to enter into contracts with companies or individuals “that engage in commercial cooperation with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Committee or the International Olympic Committee. The ban will be lifted if companies withdraw their sponsorship support for the Beijing Winter Olympics. According to the official website of the Beijing Winter Olympics, major partners include Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and other world-famous brands.

Boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (Photo by Radio Free Asia)

Pelosi proposes “diplomatic boycott”

According to Teng Biao, a U.S. legal scholar who has negotiated with the International Olympic Committee on a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics would be difficult, with the athletes bearing the brunt of the difficulties. But once athletes join the boycott, it will deal a major blow to Beijing.

“The most important thing is that Olympic committees and athletes from various countries do not participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is a difficult goal to achieve, but this is the right direction,” Teng Biao said. “It’s not very fair to the athletes that they lose a chance to compete, but the IOC puts them in a dilemma. It’s also not honorable to the athletes’ careers if they go to Beijing.”

According to Teng Biao, the boycott is a boycott, but the effect needs to be tested in the long run. Once the international community unites in a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, it will have a major impact on China’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world: “After the boycott grows, it will be useless for the Chinese Communist authorities to play deaf and dumb. This pressure will grow and accumulate, and especially Western countries will change their policies toward China, moving increasingly from a cooperative relationship to confrontation, so that China’s diplomacy will hit a wall everywhere. Not surprisingly, the situation will go in this direction in the next few years.”

If a complete boycott of the Winter Olympics is difficult, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested implementing an alternative form of boycott. She called for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Winter Olympics on May 18 to pressure the Chinese government on human rights issues. She said athletes and coaches could participate in the games, but the U.S. would not send any government delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics.