Lawmakers Urge NBC Not to Broadcast Chinese Propaganda during Olympics

( Two Democrat lawmakers have asked NBC not to broadcast Chinese propaganda during the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

In a letter to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-MA) and Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) said the company should use the opportunity of the Olympic games to provide viewers with background information on China’s human rights violations, including the genocide of the Uyghurs and Beijing’s crackdown on press freedom.

The lawmakers, who serve as the chairman and co-chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, urged NBC not to legitimize any attempt by Beijing to use the Olympic games as a way to “sportswash” its human rights record against ethnic minorities and political dissidents in Hong Kong, Tibet, and elsewhere.

In their letter, they encouraged NBC to pressure Chinese authorities to support press freedom and freedom of religion during the Beijing games, arguing that NBC had been successful in pushing China to support the free press during the 2008 games.

Merkley and McGovern urged NBCUniversal to refrain from broadcasting China’s propaganda footage showing ethnic minorities in their traditional dress, claiming that China uses that propaganda as a way to portray Uyghurs as “happy minorities” rather than the slaves that they are.

Merkley and McGovern cited as precedent NBC’s refusal to stop reporting on Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

The United States has accused China of engaging in human rights violations including forced sterilization in the camps where ethnic minorities are held and committing “cultural genocide against the Muslim Uyghur population. Beijing has denied these accusations.

The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to begin in early February. Despite vows of retaliation from China, two weeks ago, the White House announced that the US will engage in a diplomatic boycott of the games. So far, Australia, Canada, and the UK have followed suit.

Last week, both the House and Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act which bars the import of Chinese products made through Uyghur slave labor in the Xinjiang province. President Biden is expected to sign it into law.