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McCain Institute: Stand up for freedom during the Beijing Olympics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Winter Olympics start in Beijing, the McCain Institute at Arizona State University congratulates the American Olympic team and each of the international competitors. Seeing people unite for a cherished global event brings hope to the billions watching, especially in these challenging times. The Olympics embody many positive aspects of humanity: the love of sport, friendly competition and multi-culturalism. The host country is also on display during the Olympics and should embody ideals that value human dignity and human rights, but this year’s host, the government of the People’s Republic of China, does not honor those values. Any country that perpetuates an ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, suppresses the people of Tibet, chips away at the democratic rights of Hong Kong and denies basic liberties to more than 1.4 billion people should not be hosting the Olympics.

As the late Senator McCain said in 2008, “It’s not correct that the people there [China] are being subjected to mistreatment. That is not acceptable conduct from a world power, which China is . . . There must be respect for human rights, whether it be in Tibet or whether it be anyplace else in the world.”

“Although the U.S., Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and other countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, sports and global solidarity events like the Olympics can also highlight much needed change and inspire greater freedom, prosperity, and equality,” said Paul Fagan, Director of the Human Rights and Democracy Program at the McCain Institute. “Our hope is that the global community focuses not only on the games, but also on the situation in China.”

“Countless stories have emerged about athletes, journalists and spectators bringing burner phones and other new devices to China to avoid data breaches by the Chinese government. Twitter and other social media platforms are also banned by the Chinese government. We must ask: should a government that does not allow freedom of speech, religion, press and gathering freely be allowed to hold the Olympics? Athletes, sponsors, participants and spectators cannot turn a blind eye to the relentless human rights violations and lack of democracy under their feet. Let’s stand up for the rights of all, particularly those being oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Fagan added.

“Numerous first-hand accounts from survivors, satellite imagery and official documents confirm that the Chinese government systematically subjects ethnic minorities to forced labor in detention camps, prisons, and factories. Of particular concern is the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of China’s Uyghur and other Muslim minorities. We commend the United States for taking a firm stand to prevent goods tainted with forced labor from the Uyghur region from entering the U.S. market with the passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We hope that the Olympics will serve as an opportunity to shed more light on the issue of forced and child labor and encourage other leading economies to join the U.S. in a race to the top to eliminate global forced labor,” said Kristen Leanderson Abrams, Senior Director of the Combatting Human Trafficking Program at the McCain Institute.

About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute for International Leadership is fighting to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership, both at home and around the world.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Publish Date
February 3, 2022