Editorial Roundup: Boycott of Beijing justified

Published 8:50 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

When a country stands for the justice practiced by its people to promote justice around the world, it becomes a leader in justice.

That is the essence of the Biden administration’s move to impose a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics on host country China. The United States will not send its usual full diplomatic mission nor financially back the mission and the usual related events. U.S. athletes will continue to compete.

President Joe Biden took the unprecedented move to finally call out China’s human rights abuses, where other presidents have remained silent. The abuses range from the near genocide of the Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China to covering up the sexual abuse of some of its own athletes.

Human Rights Watch reported in April that atrocities in Xinjiang included: “widespread and systematic attack directed against a population: mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, cultural and religious erasure, separation of families, forced returns to China, forced labor, and sexual violence and violations of reproductive rights.”

Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters: “U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that.”

Republicans criticized the Biden administration for not going far enough. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, says athletes should not be put at risk with a dangerous Chinese regime and American businesses should not be supporting the Chinese Communist Party.

But athletes shouldn’t be political pawns in games of international relations, and many deserve to compete on the world stage after years and decades of preparation. The International Olympic Committee erred by approving Beijing for the games, and recently said each country should decide for itself whether to impose diplomatic boycotts of the games without involving the athletes.

China criticized the U.S. move and said it will invoke appropriate countermeasures.

No amount of countermeasures should dampen the U.S. resolve to shine the light on China’s human rights abuses, which seem to be growing with each year.

China falls far short of the ideals of the Olympic Charter, which calls for the games to foster “respect for universal and fundamental ethical principles.”

—Mankato Free Press, Dec. 8

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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