Tuesday, December 7, 2021

I don't like the Boycott

I am not a fan of the sports boycotts. I think the US and other governments, even those we disapprove of in some way - in this case China - should not boycott sporting events.

Sport is one of the few things that most countries can agree about on some level. Meeting a country on the field / pitch / court / ice and playing fairly is often a moment to reduce tension and increase familiarity with each other. Think about Nixon - if you don't remember, the story was.

In 1971, President Nixon and advisor Henry Kissinger, encouraged the United States Ping Pong team to China on invitation. It was the first group of Americans to tour China since before Mao's Cultural Revolution decades previously. These sportsman changed China's image inside the United States from a "Communist Menace" to normal people being governed by a different type of government.

Was China still an abuser of human rights? Heck yeah. They were a hundred times worse then than now. To join the "world" in sport went a long way towards the openness both China and the United States share now, despite our differences. Adn the world is a safer place.

Sure, I love the Olympics and hate Olympic boycotts, but it is more than that. Everytime we get a change to humanize our relations, the better. It is harder to hate "China" once you know it is made of hundreds of millions of people that are not party members. They are not a monolith, they are hard working people that want better for themselves. Do they abuse Uyghurs, hell yes. It is a horrible. They have almost 1.5 million people in re-education camps.

But, prior to the US first meeting with China, they had killed 20 million people and displaced over 100 million more. But the outside world's engagement helped to change their government's treatment of its own people. It helped usher in market reforms. These changes raised the China's get middle class (of hundreds of millions) out of poverty and into the world. Relations in education, commerce and military were vastly improved.

Interacting with the world is a good thing (even Trump did well by meeting with North Korea - it was a bust, but he tried). That's why I don't like sports boycotts. It is one of the few places were meeting other leaders and exposing each other's citizens to one another is pretty non-controversial and expectation free.

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