“MeToo,” the Chinese way

US President Biden’s announcement that the United States will diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in China based on China’s human rights record is no real surprise.  French President Macron has coordinated on the same subject within the EU27.  The Danish government has already indicated that it will protest.

The boycott will ¨result that seats in the stands, intended for VIPs, will be empty, as will the tennis courts, as a result of the protest against the Chinese way of dealing with “MeToo;” the World Women’s Tennis Association has canceled all tournaments organized in China; instead of dealing with the claims of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, that she was sexually abused by a high official, Chinese authorities criticized and sequestered the player herself.

Now, somewhere in secret, her friends are trying to convince her, that if she has been abused by a comrade, that she must understand that there is a person behind the comrade as well.

Americans have boycotted the Olympics before. In 1980, the US and other Western countries refused to attend as a protest against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Today’s diplomatic boycott differs from what it was then, in that it does not affect athletes. Biden said in a statement, that he remembered the years of hard work of American athletes to shine at the Olympics, and that depriving them of that would be a great injustice.

Yet just as in 1980, human rights are not the driving force behind the American action this year.  Rather, it’s about global interests.  It’s not about the persecuted Uyghurs, let alone the Chinese tennis star, but about America’s declining influence in the world.   While boycotting dictators at events such as the Olympics or the World Cup may have a political purpose, for the wealthy Chinese, sporting events are not relevant. They interact with dictators, especially those who rule countries with rich resource deposits, with blunt openness and enter into long-term agreements with them. On the one hand, they gain access to raw materials, on the other hand, the elected countries commit themselves to generous loans for a long time to come, without, unlike Western countries, clinging to respect for human rights.

So the idea comes to mind: aren’t Americans and other Western leaders hurting themselves by the boycott? Where else can they informally meet with the dictators of the world?

Translated and edited from the original

published: 27. 12. 2021