All who previously lamented President Joe Biden’s lack of spine in dealing with China can finally relax. Old Scranton Joe finally got tough on the Red Dragon – well, his version of tough. Biden recently tossed out the idea of boycotting the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, kind of, but not really. American athletes would still perform, but the Biden administration would refuse to show up to watch. Ouch. How can the U.S. team possibly compete without their president to cheer them on – and how will the Chinese people ever recover from the shame of such shunning? An editorial in the Chinese propaganda paper Global Times assessed the potential for damage. As it turns out, so long as the U.S. athletes still participate, the boycotting of the Beijing Olympics by politicians can be entirely ignored.
US v Olympics – This Isn’t New
The idea of boycotting the Olympics is hardly new, though it is rare. In 1980, the U.S. Department of State led 60 countries in abstaining from the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The U.S. Olympic Committee not only decided to honor the boycott but also announced that any American athlete who tried to compete would face passport revocation. Somewhat ironically, China was one of the nations that refused to send a team.
In 1936, the United States and many other Western countries almost boycotted the Games held by the Nazi regime. Ultimately, however, the movement failed, and more countries participated than ever before – including U.S. athletes.
A Legitimate Complaint, Delegitimized
The list of human rights violations committed by China is long indeed – and the word “genocide” tops it. Muslims in East Turkistan – called Xinjiang by the Chinese, who have conquered the area – have been slaughtered and subjected to numerous horrors in concentration camps. China has done much the same in Tibet, and there’s widespread persecution of Christian groups the government has declared illegal.
Any one of these would be worthy of a boycott on all things China, and they’re merely the worst of many.
But what Biden proposes isn’t real action – it’s just standard virtue-signaling. He realizes Americans want him to be tough on China, but he doesn’t really want – or can’t personally afford – to follow through.
The lack of action isn’t even the worst part – that would be the delegitimization of a legitimate complaint. About half this country considers Biden’s presidency little more than a tasteless joke. The president publicly plotting a fake boycott tells the world we aren’t really taking this seriously and that we just want to be seen doing something but aren’t willing to risk the possible consequences of real action.
China May Be in the Wrong – But Is It Right About Biden?
“Strictly speaking, a boycott of the Olympic Games means banning all of its country’s athletes from participation,” the Global Times pointed out. This idea of a “diplomatic boycott” is something a handful of politicians made up. It’s hard to imagine any real damage being done should the United States and United Kingdom – which also has reportedly kicked around the idea – refuse to send their political representatives. Indeed, it might even make the Games more enjoyable for everyone else – most things are better with less government involvement, after all.
The fact that the Chinese consider the U.S. president just as foolish as most of the Americans who didn’t vote for him is sad but certainly not surprising. Given Biden’s record with China so far, who can blame them? Here’s hoping the Biden administration considers “diplomatic boycotts” in other areas here at home, too.
~ Read more from James Fite.