The 2022 Winter Olympics officially kicked off in the Chinese capital of Beijing on Friday, where the greatest athletes in the world gathered for the games’ opening ceremony. Filled with dazzling lights, cheering crowds, and athletes proudly displaying their nation’s flags, the spectacle almost gave the impression of a normal Olympics.
But take away all the pomp and grandeur of the historic contest, and what’s left? Nothing more than one of the world’s most inhumane and authoritarian governments being rewarded with the most highly publicized sporting event of the year.
In addition to covering up the origins of the Wuhan virus and kickstarting a global pandemic, China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP) has garnered one of the worst track records on human rights of any political entity in modern history. As if monitoring and grading their own citizens’ behavior through the use of a social credit system isn’t horrific enough, the CCP is also engaged in genocide against the country’s Uyghur Muslim population.
Residing in the western Xinjiang region of China, Uyghurs have been rounded up by state authorities and forced into internment camps, with estimates of up to 2 million prisoners being held against their will. Those within the camps experience routine brainwashing that’s marketed as “reeducation,” while Uyghur women are forced to undergo sterilization and abortions.
Despite it all, the self-described leaders of the free world couldn’t find the courage to refuse participation in the Olympics. In sending their athletes to Beijing, the United States and its allies have chosen to sweep China’s inhumane actions under the rug, while also demonstrating a willingness to tolerate the CCP’s brazen assault on the basic rights of China’s people.
Moreover, the West has simultaneously allowed Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and the CCP to promote their backward version of “exceptionalism” to the rest of the world. It’s a moment they’ve desperately craved.
As noted by Jack Posobiec in Newsweek, this year’s Olympics will resemble a “coronation ceremony” for Xi, whose goal to solidify China as a regional and global hegemon will only be bolstered by the West’s participation in the games.
“When that ceremonial torch arrives and cauldron pyre is lit in Bird’s Nest Stadium under his pontifical gaze, Xi will raise his hand, and with a small wave, send a message to the world. He’s won,” Posobiec writes. “Their resistance has been broken without fighting.”
Not only did the Chinese government use the Olympics’ opening ceremony to include several instances of self-aggrandizement, but it used one moment in particular to take direct aim at everything the West says it cares about. Among the athletes chosen by China to light the ceremonial Olympic cauldron was cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang. Yilamujiang, who is reportedly “the first Chinese cross-country skiing medalist at an International Ski Federation event,” is a Uyghur from Xinjiang.
It’s Time to Stop Playing Soft with the CCP
Whether the West likes to admit it, their participation in the Olympics hasn’t simply fueled China’s ego, but it has also heavily damaged their credibility on the world stage. Rather than stand firm on their proclaimed respect for basic human rights, the United States and its allies instead chose the path of least resistance by declaring empty diplomatic boycotts. Such weak gestures will continue to be met with dismissive smirks from the CCP, who know full well that any collective action from the West will be nothing but symbolic grandstanding.
If Western leadership truly wants to stand by the Uyghurs and the rest of China’s oppressed peoples, they should quit playing footsie with Xi and the CCP and look to hold them accountable for their actions through whatever economic or diplomatic means are prudent.
It’s long past time for the West to put up or shut up in defending human rights on a global scale.