The United States has announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. The White House said no official delegation would be sent to the Games because of concerns over China’s human rights record. As of December 2021, following the U.S., Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, New Zealand, have announced diplomatic boycotts. Some people say that the boycott is too little and too late, but in my view, it may NOT be too late, but certainly it is too little.
Hong Kong People Have Lost Their Freedom Before Our Eyes
Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then was returned to China. While Hong Kong is part of China, it also maintains a degree of autonomy. As a former British colony, it enjoys its own legal and political systems, and protected freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) promised that Hong Kong would be governed under the “one country, two systems” arrangement for 50 years. After 20 years, the Chinese government broke its promise and Hong Kong is now like any city in mainland China, under the complete control of the CCP.
In 2019, millions of Hong Kongers sacrificed their weekends and took to the streets peacefully to protest the dictatorship of the Communist regime. The goal of the movement was “Five demands, not one less.” The first demand was the withdrawal of the extradition bill, which the CCP aimed to use to take over the legal system of Hong Kong. Through manipulating the Hong Kong government and police, the CCP brutally suppressed the movement. Thousands of protesters were brutally injured; some were even murdered. Many young students and human rights activists were arrested.
The crackdown on Hong Kong protesters was bloody and brutal. The photos and video clips that recorded the bravery of Hong Kong protesters can be seen on the internet everywhere except in mainland China. However, sadly, people of the free world failed to stop the tyranny of the Chinese regime. In the end, we lost Hong Kong, a city filled with people who love freedom and democracy.
Today, we see a completely different Hong Kong. A Hong Kong District Court sentenced a man to nearly six years in prison, just because he dressed up as the comic book character “Captain America” to protest China’s encroachment on the city’s limited freedoms in 2020. It was reported in July 2021 that the pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was escorted by the police to jail after a hearing for 47 people charged with violating Hong Kong’s national security law. Just a couple of days before Christmas, 2021, the University of Hong Kong secretly removed a famous statue that had been one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The year 2019 should be unforgettable and unforgivable, as we – the people who love life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – failed to take effective action to stop Communism. In 2021, we witnessed that the CCP sped up its efforts to destroy our democracy. Recently, CNN reported that Hong Kong’s first “patriots only” legislative election witnessed a record low turnout, reflecting a steep decline in civic and political engagement following Beijing’s overhaul of the city’s electoral processes.
Save Uyghur People from the CCP’s Genocide
Since 2017, the Chinese government has carried out an ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity, arbitrarily detaining an estimated 1.8–3 million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps and hundreds of thousands more in the prison system. According to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the Uyghur homeland has been turned into a high-tech police state with ubiquitous surveillance blanketing cities and villages. Uyghurs have been subjected to atrocious crimes that include arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, forced labor, torture, sexual violence, coercive birth prevention campaigns, and the widespread destruction of cultural and religious sites.
In 2019, the world began to learn more about how the CCP systematically destroy an ethnic group in China. However, the genocide against Uyghurs has not been stopped so far. The Chinese government announced in December 2021 that it has spent about $63 million in recent years to build or renovate kindergartens in Xinjiang, raising the restive region’s preschool enrollment rate to 98 percent. In fact, the intent of such investment is to use bilingual education to brainwash the young generation of Uyghurs, separate Uyghur children from their parents and culture, and eliminate the identity of Uyghur people.
“We must always take sides,” Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” After witnessing the fall of Hong Kong, the world should take sides, taking more actions and more efforts to save the Uyghur people.
In the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA), Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter Freedom is answering Wiesel’s call and has set a role model for the rest of us to choose between silence and speaking up. While openly criticizing China’s genocide and human rights violation comes with huge costs and risks, Freedom has no intention of going silent. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be in the league, but I’m going to expose these horrible people as much as I can,” Freedom told media.
After world leaders lodged their official protests, the Chinese Communist regime started threatening the U.S. and countries that stand for justice and against the genocide of the Uyghur people. The Chinese government has been intimidating human rights defenders for years. From jailing human rights activists to showing its teeth to countries that stand for justice, the Chinese Communist regime has become a real threat to world peace.
It is not too late for the U.S. and other countries to speak up and demand respect for human rights in Communist China. However, the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China is too little to stop the CCP from putting more Hong Kong human activists in jail and murdering more Uyghur people. As, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once said, “Peace through strength works. Appeasement does not.”