How often do you find Joe Biden and Ted Cruz on the same side of an issue?
Especially when that side is the middle-ground option between a total boycott of the Games, as some Republicans want, and sending a traditional diplomatic delegation to the Olympics.
Josh Rogin reported in mid-November that the White House was weighing a diplomatic boycott. But they weren’t really weighing it, per the WSJ. The decision had already been made weeks ago not to send U.S. diplomats to Beijing; the administration simply delayed the announcement so as not to step on the virtual summit between Biden and Xi Jinping on November 15.
U.S. will not send diplomatic representatives to the 2022 Winter Olympics Games in Beijing over China’s “egregious human rights abuses,” White House press sec. Jen Psaki announces. https://t.co/l0skcbdbSE pic.twitter.com/ixvwSE7bi2
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) December 6, 2021
If there was any doubt about the U.S. staging some sort of protest at the Games, the disappearance of Peng Shuai early last month and the hostage crisis that’s been playing out ever since settled it. It would have been queasy to proceed in a business-as-usual diplomatic manner towards China after they covered up the initial outbreak of COVID, subjugated Hong Kong, and continued their mass internment of Uighurs. But Peng’s kidnapping is an unusually brazen and visible example of China silencing someone who’s made trouble for the regime; it’s a case study of CCP ruthlessness directed at a prominent athlete just months before the Games will open, in full view of western media. It can’t be ignored the way most international developments are, especially with the WTA bravely refusing to keep quiet about Peng’s treatment.
A Chinese spokesman responded to the White House’s diplomatic boycott by calling it a “naked political provocation” and promising “resolute countermeasures.” Republicans eager to position themselves as China hawks in hopes of running for president someday think Biden went too easy here…
A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke. China doesn’t care if Biden and Team show up. They want our athletes.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) December 6, 2021
…whereas Republicans who have already run for president are content that a diplomatic boycott sends the right signal of disapproval without punishing American athletes:
The Administration is right to refuse diplomatic presence at the Beijing Olympics: America will not turn a blind eye to China’s predation, persecution, and genocide.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 6, 2021
The main virtue of the boycott is the pressure it’ll create on other institutions to limit their own interactions with China. “Australia, the Netherlands and others have considered boycotts,” the Journal notes. “Such a snub by prominent Western and other governments, if it materialized, would hinder Beijing in using the Winter Games to show Chinese at home that the event—and by extension China—have broad international support.” U.S. businessmen who want to continue cashing China’s checks — ahem — and are otherwise willing to look the other way at crimes against humanity will also have to face awkward questions about their blindness to what the White House shone a light on today.
Biden will get some rare backpats from GOPers for his decision but don’t forget that while he’s engaged in symbolic gestures of disapproval towards Beijing, his team is also working quietly to defeat more substantive reprimands by Congress:
Biden administration officials have been quietly telling lawmakers to slow down. Administration sources confirmed that in an October call between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the other co-sponsor, Sherman made it clear that the administration prefers a more targeted and deliberative approach to determining which goods are the products of forced labor. She also told Merkley that getting allied buy-in was critical and more effective than unilateral action.
“To be clear, the Department of State is not opposing this amendment,” a State Department spokesman told me. “We share the Congress’ concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang.”
In other words, while the administration supports the legislation in public, they are asking Democrats to essentially water it down in private. Sherman’s specific criticism relates to a part of the bill that would require a presumption that all products coming from Xinjiang are tainted by forced labor unless the importer can prove otherwise. This happens to be the exact provision corporations are also objecting to. Maybe it’s a coincidence.
If Biden can get his party to water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act while U.S. diplomats are skipping the Chinese Olympics, Beijing will take that deal. As will corporate America.
Here’s Jake Tapper yesterday on CNN calling BS on the International Olympic Committee’s deal with the devil in the form of the CCP. The phrase “mob lawyer” is used, not incorrectly. Exit question: If Trump were still president, would he have ordered a diplomatic boycott of the Games? He likes to project strength, especially when it comes to China, but if Xi promised to roll out the red carpet for him I don’t know if he’d be able to resist the flattery. It’s not like he has a moral objection to how China handles its business.
Amid the Women’s Tennis Association’s decision to pull future events in China over concern for tennis star Peng Shuai, @jaketapper examines China’s alleged history of human rights abuses and questions if other organizations will put ethics over profit. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/wOgsdM590w
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) December 5, 2021
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