The Chinese regime has tried to undermine the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics by invoking America’s treatment of Native Americans. Beijing’s statements and comparison fails on several levels, and Americans must remain morally confident in condemning the regime’s genocide against the Uyghurs.
The United States announced that it will not send officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang, particularly against the Uyghur population and other ethnic minorities in the region. Beijing issued a strong response that might seem impressive, but it’s just mostly smoke and mirrors. It is indicative of the ways the regime tries to manipulate others through guilt trips, selective historical examples, and petty politics.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said that U.S. claims of Uyghur mistreatment are contradicted by “facts,” yet he didn’t provide any to support his statement. The mistreatment of Uyghurs has been thoroughly documented. Eyewitness testimony is particularly powerful in refuting Beijing’s denials.
Zhao even said that American officials weren’t invited to the Games in the first place. He also said the diplomatic boycott “gravely violates” the political neutrality of the Olympics. “Neutrality” end up being weaponized as a way to gloss over situations that shouldn’t be ignored in the first place. In other words, being politically neutral during the Olympics doesn’t mean we must also ignore genocide. This goes back to my discussion of clarity and ambiguity. The United States promotes this policy to restrain either side, Taiwan or mainland China, from provoking a conflict. But this ambiguity ends up favoring the Chinese regime because it is more aggressive and provocative than Taiwan.
The final part of Zhao’s response is more sophisticated, but inaccurate. He said, “Speaking of ‘genocide,’ this label fits the U.S. better than anyone else for the evil crimes it committed against Native Americans.” Chinese responses to Western and American criticism over human rights usually include some mention of Western misbehavior because it so easily puts the Western elites on the defensive. Because America is tearing itself apart with self-loathing over the treatment of Native Americans and the supposedly systematic racism, Beijing doesn’t have to say much to induce guilt and provide cover for its behavior. For example, at the time of this writing, the governor of Nevada apologized for the Native Americans buried at boarding schools.
We all should look at the past and consider how we can do better and try to address wrongs. But the Western obsession with America’s history of racial sins has become pathological. First, this has manifested in the following: the guilt Western leaders have over racism and sexism has led to violent felons getting low bail and being free to run over people at a Christmas parade; a cancel culture climate so heated that makes survivors of China’s Cultural Revolution recall that event; the labelling of massively damaging riots as “mostly peaceful,” and in general, a malaise and lack of confidence in a moral position that condemns human rights abuses by the Chinese regime. Beijing expects that the Western officials trying to be tough on China feel a stab of pain to their core when the communist officials invoke America’s racist past.
Second, many people in the American left are particularly hypocritical on human rights in China. Hollywood actors, athletes, and human rights advocates are quick to attack America for perceived abuses in the United States. Colin Kaepernick compared NFL tryouts to slave auctions, and LeBron James claimed people are hunted. And yet they play (or played) for organizations that scrupulously avoid criticizing China so that they can stay in the lucrative Chinese market. Some athletes probably play in sneakers made by Uyghur slave labor. Some people in Hollywood attack America as sexist and racist, but they filmed movies like Mulan in areas close to Uyghur concentration camps, and often censor their movies so they can be played in mainland China.
Clearly, any problem in America is still minor compared to the genocide happening in China. And a close look at history suggests that American treatment of Natives is still far less egregious than Chinese behavior toward Uyghurs. While America may have mistreated the Native Americans, it was not an organized genocide. “Genocide” is used imprecisely by Beijing as an emotionally loaded term that can invoke Western guilt. The concept I like to use is comparing American misdemeanors to Chinese communist felonies. It is the pathological guilt of liberals that makes them unable to distinguish between the two.
The Chinese communists know how to manipulate words and ideas. American liberals are particularly pathological in feeling guilty for America’s past, but also in condemning America’s present while staying silent and even benefiting from China’s current genocide. Despite its imperfect history, the United States must keep the moral confidence to condemn the Chinese regime’s abuses.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.