Marco Rubio condemns ‘evil, genocidal’ Chinese government as Olympics get underway
Sen. Marco Rubio.

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'I will work to ensure that the Olympics are never hosted in the People’s Republic of China again.'

On the day of the 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, Sen. Marco Rubio again called out the systemic oppression of ethnic and religious minorities by the Chinese government, specifically of the Uyghur people.

The Winter Olympic Games, Rubio said, will be remembered for the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party rather than for the accomplishments of the participating athletes.

“By hosting the Games in the shadows of concentration camps, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its corporate sponsors prioritized financial profit over human rights,” he said in a statement. “In doing so, the IOC shredded its own Code of Ethics and lost all moral credibility.”

Rubio continued: “While we pray for the health, safety, and success of all American athletes, we cannot forget that hiding behind the pageantry and fanfare is an evil, genocidal regime. Until the Chinese Communist Party puts an end to all ethnic cleansing, slave labor practices, and political oppression, I will work to ensure that the Olympics are never hosted in the People’s Republic of China again.”

Last month, Rubio and fellow Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced a resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to relocate the Winter Olympic Games from Beijing.

In a Jan. 24 press note, Rubio’s campaign pointed to the attempt by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime “to gradually eliminate vulnerable ethnic and religious groups such as the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

On Dec. 23, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which Rubio and Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley reintroduced in January 2021, the same month the U.S. state Department recognized China’s actions against the Uyghurs as genocide and crimes against humanity.

The law prohibits the importation of “goods, wares, articles and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part” in the Uyghur Autonomous Region. There are exceptions for importers who have proven that the product being imported is not in any way the product of forced labor.

Rubio and Merkley first introduced the bill in 2020, when Democratic Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey sponsored a House version. McGovern sponsored the 2021 version, which passed Dec. 8. Its revised Senate analogue passed just over a week later.

Rubio called the bill “the most important and impactful action taken thus far by the United States to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their use of slave labor.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed similar sentiments in a statement on the day Biden signed the Act into law.

“The ongoing genocide perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities is a challenge to the conscience of the entire world, which is why the House twice passed legislation to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its exploitation of forced labor and put an end to this horrific practice,” she said. “If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world.”

China’s repression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group based primarily in Xinjiang, attracted international condemnation and resulted in economic sanctions by the administrations of both Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Over the past decade, word of China’s detainment, surveillance and forced sterilization has seeped through the country’s firm grasp on its domestic media. The oppression of the Uyghurs, which dates back to the formation of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, when China reclaimed Xinjiang, has led some countries, including the U.S., to classify it as genocide.

More recently, as China has moved to develop the region and populate it with the majority Han ethnic group, the government’s actions have grown more oppressive. Reports arose of forced intrauterine device (IUD) insertions and abortion on Turkic Muslim women, as well as of mass sterilization. British scholar Jo Smith Finley found that while Xinjiang is home to less than 2% of China’s population, it accounted for 80% of all IUD insertions nationwide.

In 2017, China began building what would become the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority since World War II — some 380 detention centers it calls “reeducation camps,” which have held an estimated 1 to 3 million detainees who were arrested for praying and other religious practices.

Those released from the camps face forced labor.

In December 2019, Rubio and fellow Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott joined Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Richard Blumenthal, Kevin Cramer, Dick Durbin, Josh Hawley, Ed Markley, Jerry Moran and Todd Young in urging the IOC to hold China accountable and ensure human rights are upheld at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The letter to IOC President Thomas Bach noted the Chinese government’s history of ethno-religious oppression, including past conduct with relation to the Olympics.

“Prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese propaganda authorities issued a 21-point directive outlining how domestic media could report on the Olympics, including a ban on reporting on Tibetan and Uyghur movements, a prohibition from noting the lifting of censorship of Western websites just during the time of the Olympics, and a blanket requirement to report positively on Olympic security arrangements,” the senators wrote. “The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China also noted a spike in the weeks prior and during the Olympics in infringement by local authorities on the freedom of foreign journalists — including the beating of two Japanese journalists, abuse of Hong Kong journalists, and detention of two Finnish journalists as well as other foreign correspondents.”

They called on the IOC to implement a host city contract with China as outlined in the 2020 Olympic Agenda, whose guidelines were publicly available prior to Beijing signing its July 2015 host city contract.

“Any nation enjoying the opportunity to ‘promote its image on the world stage’ should be held to the utmost standards of human rights and freedom,” they wrote. “The Olympic Games are a shining example of the best that humans can be. We urge you to allow this to be true across all arenas and implement the most current Host City Requirements for each forthcoming Games.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


One comment

  • Corpser9000

    February 4, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    The chinese taste better in soy sauce….

Comments are closed.


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