Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves as the Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) and as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—co-chaired the Commission’s first hearing of the 117th Congress today to discuss steps Americans and American companies can take to use the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to shine a spotlight on the Uyghur genocide, crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, and other human rights abuses in China.
“America cannot remain silent in the face of China’s disturbing human rights violations, nor can we allow the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to become a propaganda victory or distraction from the host’s perpetration of genocide and repression,” said Merkley. “The International Olympic Committee should move to relocate this event. If the Olympic Games continue to move forward in Beijing, we must unite with our allies around the world to diplomatically boycott the event, and encourage corporate sponsors to withdraw their support.”
The State Department has determined that the Chinese government is engaging in genocide against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim people and no longer respects Hong Kong’s autonomy, and has sanctioned Chinese officials on these grounds. Today’s hearing, which was co-hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, examined the current human rights situation in China; considered the Chinese government’s use of propaganda around the Olympics; and evaluated strategies that do not fall on individual athletes to use the Olympics to leverage improvements in human rights in China.
Serving as witnesses were Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Dr. Yang Jianli, Founder and President of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, Susan V. Lawrence, Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, Rayhan Asat, Human Rights Lawyer and Advocate, Samuel Chu, Managing Director of Hong Kong Democracy Council, and Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.
The hearing follows a long series of efforts by Merkley to hold China accountable for other crackdowns on human rights and freedoms, including supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, banning the export of crowd control munitions to Hong Kong, and shedding light on the genocide of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.