Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) is calling upon the corporate sponsors of the 2022 Winter Olympics to reveal human rights abuses inflicted by the Chinese Communist Party.
On Monday, the United States government announced an official diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics due to Beijing’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity.” Australia joined the United States shortly afterward.
In a letter to the Olympics’ corporate sponsors — Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Bridgestone, Intel, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Visa, Comcast, Delta Air Lines, Salesforce, Deloitte, Nike, Jetset Sports, Oakley, Ralph Lauren, and Toyota — Steel discussed the unique opportunity presented by the Games to highlight China’s atrocities.
As the 2022 Winter Olympic Games approach, it is critical that you take a stand for those being persecuted and marginalized in China. Your global companies are investing over $3 billion in the Beijing and Paris Olympics on advertisement and sponsorship. I write today to strongly urge you to use your public platforms and multimillion-dollar advertising budget, with a combined reach of billions of people, to raise awareness on the atrocities being performed by the Chinese government to end its abuses and to pressure China to end its human rights violations.
Steel observed that the companies are eager to point out purported social justice issues in the United States. She therefore encouraged executives to do the same with China’s persecution of the Uyghur ethnic minority via “forced sterilizations,” “labor camps,” and “murder.”
Many of the companies who are sponsoring Team USA and the 2022 Winter Olympics felt compelled to speak out over the last year in support of political and social protests. Coca Cola spoke out loudly against laws passed in Georgia. Visa said, “Change starts here” and highlighted their focus on “global acceptance.” Airbnb condemned “racism, bigotry and hate.” But where are your statements against the human rights abuses happening right now in China? How can we support sending our athletes — the best of the best, who have worked so hard for these moments — to a country with a backdrop of abuse and violence?
In Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), it is now estimated that up to 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui, and others have been arbitrarily detained in a system of extrajudicial mass internment camps where they are subjected to forced labor, torture, mass rapes, and political indoctrination. Turkic and Muslim minorities also face widespread and systemic forced labor. The backdrop of these games is one of genocide, violence, and terror.
Many American corporations depend upon China and its expanding consumer economy for revenue growth. As a result, executives typically turn a blind eye to China’s human rights abuses and avoid violating the Chinese government’s official narratives.
For instance, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon apologized last month after making a joke about the Chinese Communist Party.
“I made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year,” he said during a recent speaking engagement. “So is JPMorgan. I’d make a bet that we last longer.”
He continued: “I can’t say that in China. They are probably listening anyway.”
“I regret my recent comment because it’s never right to joke about or denigrate any group of people, whether it’s a country, its leadership, or any part of a society and culture,” Dimon said one day later. “Speaking in that way can take away from constructive and thoughtful dialogue in society, which is needed now more than ever.”
“I noted the reports about how the individual involved has sincerely reflected,” responded Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “I think this is the right attitude. I hope the media involved will stop hyping this issue.”
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