An effort is brewing in Congress to persuade President Bush to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing over concerns on Chinese human rights violations.
A resolution introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, calls for the U.S. government to take “immediate steps” to boycott the games unless the “Chinese regime stops engaging in serious human rights abuses against its citizens and stops supporting serious human rights abuses by the governments of Sudan, Burma and North Korea against their citizens.”
The nonbinding resolution was co-sponsored by seven Republicans.
“The Olympics represent the noblest elements of humanity, and the Chinese regime represents the opposite,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “The Olympic torch is supposed to be a beacon of light shining upon mankind’s higher aspirations in the world, and it’s a travesty to have that torch hosted by a regime that is the world’s worst human rights abuser.”
Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, also introduced a nonbinding resolution asking the president to boycott the Beijing games because of China‘s “long-standing economic and military ties with Sudan” and because China “continues to strengthen these ties in spite of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.” Darfur is a region in western Sudan.
The Chinese Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
The resolutions were introduced during the hectic final week that Congress was in session before its August recess, and thus initially received little attention.
So Mr. Rohrabacher, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international organizations, human rights and oversight, yesterday distributed a letter to House members asking for support for the resolution. The letter was co-signed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican.
Mr. Rohrabacher likened U.S. support for the Beijing Olympics to the 1936 summer games in Berlin, in which the United States and its allies turned a blind eye to atrocities perpetrated by the ruling Nazi regime in Germany.
“Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics, giving Hitler a worldwide platform to showcase his fascist propaganda,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “It was wrong to support the Olympic venue then, and it’s wrong for the United States to support this prestigious event being held in a similarly fascist regime in 2008.”
While convincing the Bush administration and the U.S. Olympic Committee to boycott the 2008 games is a long shot, proponents of the effort hope to pressure Olympic corporate sponsors to withdraw their support.
Boycott advocates also hope to draw greater attention to what they say are egregious human rights violations by the Chinese.
“The American public has been lulled into a certain complacency concerning China,” Rohrabacher spokeswoman Tara Setmayer said. “But people are starting to see the negative effects of the United States’ cozy relationship with China.”