Monday, November 29, 2021

Peng Shuai’s plight puts pressure on Joe Biden to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics

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Like most genuinely repressive regimes, Beijing is intimidated but utterly lousy in public relations

China’s sinister treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai increases pressure on Joe Biden to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The US president has previously said that he is “considering” diplomatic snubbering of the Games, a move that would allow US athletes to compete but keep officials away from the Games in protest of China’s human rights abuses.

Both senior Republican and Democratic Congressmen – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – have called for a boycott.

In reality, for many months now, Biden has been under increasing pressure to make a firm statement about the growing authoritarianism and repression that Chinese President Xi Jinping has demonstrated – in attempts to eradicate democracy in Hong Kong, in the growing threats against Taiwan and the United States Concentration camps for Muslims in northwest China

While activists are horrified by the statistics of one million Uyghurs working in labor camps, the tragedy of Peng’s dislike of human rights has really put the spotlight on the spotlight.

Like most genuinely repressive regimes, Beijing is intimidated but utterly lousy in public relations. The media blackout following Peng’s tweet accusing former Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of sexual misconduct had the undesirable effect of drawing the world’s attention to her plight – and rekindling calls to boycott the Winter Olympics.

As the turmoil surrounding the Peng case builds, right-wing Republicans like Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz have pushed for a full US boycott of the Games.

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, had also called for a total boycott. She said attending would send a message that America is ready to turn a blind eye to the genocide oppression of the Chinese Uyghurs.

“The Beijing Winter Olympics are Xi Jinping’s Games,” said Xu Guoqi, a historian at Hong Kong University The Washington Post. As such, the US snub will carry much diplomatic weight.

The Women’s Tennis Association calls for China to be held accountable. Smaller sports, for which the Winter Olympics are particularly important, do not want a boycott.

But the bigger question is whether a boycott will have the desired effect of swaying Beijing for the better – or simply adding to hostility between China and the West at a time when trade and security tensions are already dangerously high. The moral argument is that China should not get away with its treatment of Peng – or its brutalization of a million Uyghurs.

But the West will face the likelihood that Xi Jinping, who recently stood on a pedestal with Mao Zedong by recording his own version of the CCP story, will not bow.

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