June 15, 2001
Dear Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC):
The UAW strongly urges you to oppose Beijing's application to host the 2008 Olympic Games, because of the Chinese government's outrageous record of repression against labor activists.
Hundreds of worker activists currently are imprisoned in China for exercising internationally recognized labor rights as defined by the International Labor Organization. During the period that Beijing has campaigned to win the honor of hosting the 2008 Games, there actually has been an increase in the number of human and labor rights violations carried out by the government of the People's Republic of China.
The UAW has great respect for the citizens of China and we know that their commitment to the Olympic spirit would be evidenced should the IOC choose Beijing as the host city. My union believes that the Chinese people deserve to host the Olympic Games in 2008, but the Chinese government does NOT.
Beijing's supporters argue that the IOC should not consider a country's human and labor rights record in deciding where the Games will occur. However, I do not believe that Olympic competition can occur in a vacuum without regard to the political situation of the host country today, anymore than it could in 1936. I ask that you consider what the climate will be like if Beijing hosts the Games while many Chinese citizens languish in prison merely for attempting to exercise basic human and labor rights.
The UAW in the past has urged Hein Verbruggen, who chairs the IOC Evaluation Commission, to raise with Chinese officials a number of specific cases involving jailed labor activists. They included those of Xu Jian, Cao Moabin, Wang Guoqui, Yue Tianxiang, Guo Xinmin, Guo Ququing, Lui Jingsheng, Hu Shigen, Yago Guisheng, and Pheng Shi. It was our hope that all, or at least some, of these incarcerated worker activists would be released as a symbol of China's willingness to improve its record on human and labor rights. Instead, the Jiang Zemin government has flaunted its ongoing violations of international labor standards this week for example, Li Wangyang, a well-respected labor organizer was charged with subversion, one year after he was released from serving 11 years in prison.
The UAW urges you to reject Beijing as host city for the 2008 Games, because we believe repression is not an Olympic sport. If it was, the Chinese government would win the Gold.
Stephen P. Yokich