Interview: Beijing Olympics Means ‘Patting Xi Jinping on the Back’ Amid Xinjiang, Tibet Horrors

Rep. Chris Smith, a 21-term Republican congressman from New Jersey and co-chair of the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is a long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights record. He spoke to Tashi Wangchuk of RFA’s Tibetan Service Friday about increasingly repressive Chinese policies toward Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. He endorsed the determination made by the U.S. State Department in January that China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region constitute genocide, and said the term also applies to repressive policies in next-door Tibet. The situation in these long-troubled regions, along with the sharp decline in freedom in Hong Kong in the year since China imposed a harsh National Security Law on Hong Kong, make Beijing unfit to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, said Smith. He argued for pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider the decision, and called for a boycott in the event the games go on in the Chinese capital. This interview has been edited for length.

2022 Winter Olympics

To march into Beijing, into an Olympic stadium, with big smiles, patting Xi Jinping on the back — you know the genocide is his genocide. And you know, he’s the one who said ‘show no mercy’ to the Muslim Uyghurs…and they haven’t. (We must) very aggressively say to the IOC: “You cannot host an Olympic Games in the same country that is also committing a horrific genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs and other minorities.’ It’s reminiscent of the 1936 Nazi Olympic Games, but in that case we didn’t know as much then…We now know what’s going on against the people in Xinjiang, and it is a genocide. It has been determined to be that by both Secretary (Mike) Pompeo and by Anthony Blinken, the secretary of state, and other countries…are now stepping up and saying it is indeed a genocide, and that is the complete elimination of the people in whole or in part. The five criteria described in the genocide convention, all of them are being realized horribly by the people of Xinjiang. If that doesn’t work, frankly, if the Olympic Committee remains resolute, we should boycott it.

Rep. Chris Smith (C) and Tiananmen protest veteran Fang Zheng (2nd L) are observed by sculptor Chen Weiming (L) at a ceremony on the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, at Liberty Sculpture Park in Yermo, California, June 4, 2021. Credit: AFP

‘Decades-long genocide’ in Tibet

Genocide against the Tibetans has been a long, decades-long genocide: The Han population transfer that has occurred, the use of forced abortion and forced sterilization to reduce the population — very similar to what they’re doing against the Uyghurs — the inability of people to practice their chosen faith as they would like. The fact that the Dalai Lama’s successor the Panchen Lama, has disappeared and the Chinese Communist government reserves unto itself the right to pick the next Dalai Lama. I mean that is absurd. So there’s been a long, very, very painful genocide against Tibetans. The Chinese Communist Party is directly responsible for several genocides of which Tibet is one of them.

A ‘rapidly deteriorating situation’ in Hong Kong

And again just look at Hong Kong. They broke their word on the basic law, they broke their word on the U.K.-Sino agreement, which is an international treaty. And now some of the best and the bravest and the brightest in Hong Kong are in prison, or they’ve had to leave the country, while others are waiting for that knock on the door of the Chinese secret police. So it’s a rapidly deteriorating situation.

Edited by Paul Eckert

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