Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 13, 2021

U.S. and a few allies plan partial boycott of Winter Olympics in China as a protest

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American officials will skip the Beijing Olympics in February to show disapproval of China's human-rights record, the White House announced last week. Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom soon joined in, with other democracies likely to follow. It's just a diplomatic boycott, with athletes from those countries still competing Feb. 4-20. A spokesman at China's foreign ministry said it "doesn't matter if their officials come or not. . . . Sports has nothing to do with politics. It is they who have written, directed and performed this farce." A government-run newspaper mocked allies following the Biden administration’s lead: "Countries with rationality would think of the interests of their own people instead of cooperating with the U.S.' futile stunt."

The Chinese government denies accounts of brutality against its Uyghur (pronounced WEE-gurr) minority in the northwest Xinjiang region, as well as against Kazakhs and other mostly Muslim groups there. There are claims of forced labor, religious oppression, mass jailing and separation of children from their families. Several democratic nations, including the United States, labeled China’s Xinjiang policy as "genocide" (elimination of an ethnic group). Critics also point to disappearances of rights activists and lawyers elsewhere, as well as Beijing's sweeping crackdown on democratic protests in Hong Kong.

The symbolic Olympic protest is undercut by UN Secretary-General António Guterres' acceptance of an invitation to attend. Back in 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush went to Beijing for the opening of the Summer Games – China's first time as host. And in coming years, China will have a chance to return the diplomatic snub when Los Angeles is the Summer Games site in 2028 and when Australia hosts the Olympics in 2032 in Brisbane.

White House says: "We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games. U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business as usual in the face of [China’s] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities. . . . And we simply can't do that." – Jen Psaki, press secretary

France says: "France will not [boycott]. Sports is a world in itself, which must be protected from political interference." – Jean-Michel Blanquer, Cabinet member

British official says: "This diplomatic boycott shows that our values on human rights trumps China's abuses of them, and that we will not be intimidated, we will not be cowed and we will continue to shine a very bright light on the genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang." -- Nusrat Ghani, Parliament member

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2022

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.