At bicameral, bipartisan congressional hearing…Coca-Cola, Visa, and others refuse to say Beijing 'Genocide Olympics,' should be moved to another country
When pressed by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) at a bicameral, bipartisan congressional hearing today, representatives from corporate sponsors of the 2022 Winter Olympics refused to say that the Beijing Games—dubbed the “Genocide Olympics”—should be moved to a venue in another country due to the ongoing genocide and other egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“Knowing what we know now about the Beijing ‘Genocide Olympics,’ should the Games be moved to another country and city?” Smith, the Ranking Member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), asked representatives from Coca-Cola, Visa, Airbnb, Intel, and Procter & Gamble—each of whom is a corporate sponsor of the Games expected to advertise and send executives for next year’s event.
None of the corporate representatives gave a straight yes-or-no answer to Smith’s question, and the Coca-Cola representative—Paul Lalli—avoided it altogether.
When Smith pressed Lalli, who repeatedly boasted of Coca-Cola’s commitment to human rights, he said, “We don’t have a position on if [the Games are] going to be moved or delayed. We will follow these athletes wherever they compete.”
“If the athletes go to Pyongyang in North Korea, is that okay too?” Smith asked.
Similarly, Visa’s representative Andrea Fairchild said, “We have no responsibility in the site selection.”
Smith said, “Unfortunately, for many American corporations, it is business as usual when it comes to China.”
“However, in China, we not only see genocide and concentration camps directed against Uyghurs and Kazaks in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in particular, but also the ongoing eradication of the culture of Tibet, the harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners, the destruction of Christian churches, and the dismantling of freedom in Hong Kong.”
Smith, who has chaired 72 hearings on human rights abuses in China, and other American lawmakers have been raising the issue of human rights for decades and have repeatedly called attention to the prestige and credibility that bestowing international honors like hosting the Olympics gives to the CCP.
In October 2018, Smith wrote a letter with Senator Marco Rubio to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, asking the IOC “to review and ultimately reassign the location of the 2022 Winter Olympics given credible reporting of the mass, arbitrary internment of one million or more Uyghurs or other Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and other ongoing human rights abuses by the Chinese government.”
“To now have major U.S. companies all affirming the decision to hold the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing is aiding the abetting the crowning of a barbarous regime with laurels while we should be condemning their abuse and genocide,” Smith said.
Earlier this year, Smith, who is also co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC), chaired a TLHRC hearing entitled “China, Genocide and the Olympics,” where he called for a change in venue for the Games or a total boycott.
A longtime leader on human rights in China, Smith traveled to Beijing when China was awarded the 2008 Games to elevate the issue of human rights and raise awareness of efforts by the CCP to arrest dissidents and prevent them from speaking with journalists. He also went to Beijing when China was seeking to host the 2000 Games to meet the pro-democracy dissident and father of the Democracy Wall Movement, Wei Jingsheng.
This year is even more poignant, Smith said. “To help clarify, what we are talking about are State crimes up to and including genocide–a determination made by two secretaries of State in succeeding Administration: one Republican, one Democrat. The CCP is seeking to use the Olympics as a platform to tout its alternative vision of global governance, and President Xi Jinping—the man who pushed the IOC in 2015 to award China as the venue for the 2022 Games—is the same man who, at about the same time, planned and now continues committing genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Smith has been banned from China over the years and is the only House member to have been targeted with sanctions by the Chinese government.
Click on the arrow below to view the hearing.