Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

There are many differences between how the United States and how China are led. Some are obvious, and some are hidden from the rest of the world.

“Fundamentally, the biggest difference [between the U.S. and China] is how the governments are run,” AP Government teacher Joshua Posegate
said. “On one hand, you have one that rules as an authoritarian and on the other, you have a strong, democratic form of government.”

The shaping of the two governments is fairly similar, however, with the difference being how the government is used.

“Both have legislative branches, although China’s in a unicameral and ours is bicameral,” Posegate said. “There’s an executive branch and lots of judges as well. So they’re similar in that sense but in terms of the federal system we have in the U.S. versus their type of system, for the most part, it’s going to be a lot different.”

Beyond all of that, something has been hiding that separates the United States and China drastically: China’s known and serious human rights abuses.

“China, at best, has a history of violence against people wanting civil rights,” AP government teacher George Villanueva said. “At worst, China commits mass genocide on groups of people in their country.”

For the past few decades, China has been pushing its large majority population known as Han Chinese to move to the territory of Xinjiang and push out the minority Muslim population known as the Uighurs, who live autonomously from China in Xinjiang.

The Uighurs have their own language, and they make up half of the population in China’s largest region. However, since 2014, the Uighurs have become the most surveilled group in the world when China started a campaign to monitor the Uighurs every move.

According to the New York Times, China created a list of “75 behavioral indications of religious extremism,” which included things such as which door they used to leave their house and how much time they spent talking to neighbors. After collecting data, China used it in their policing system to flag more than 24,000 Uighurs as suspicious and sent 15,000 of them to “re-education camps” in one day, according to NBC News.

What the re-education camps are is not precisely known outside of China. Some camps become forced labor, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which estimated in March 2020 that at least 80,000 Uighurs were forced to work in factories across china across two years. Some were also forced to work in cotton fields in Xinjiang, the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world. Recently, the U.S.banned the importation of goods made in Xinjiang, calling the camps nothing less than genocide.

Athletes protesting various issues in China has met severe backlash, so it came as no surprise when no Olympic athletes protested while in China. When the then-general manager of the National Basketball Association Houston Rockets Darel Morey re-tweeted support for the Hong Kong civil rights protests in 2019, China essentially banned the purchase of Rockets merchandise and decided not to air two pre-season games that were played in China during the controversy. In response to China’s actions, the NBA called the tweet “regrettable” and NBA mega superstar LeBron James said that the tweets were “misinformed.” He faced backlash in the U.S., but not so much in China, where his shoe deal with Nike made the company billions of dollars that year.

John Cena got caught up with the Chinese government when he said in an interview surrounding his appearance in the newest installment of the Fast And The Furious franchise that “Taiwan is the first country to watch ‘Fast And Furious nine.’ ” China, which considers Taiwan to be a part of the Republic of China, rushed to restrict the movie’s access in China, which forced Cena to formally apologize for his words.

Villanueva says that sadly, Americans tend not to care about what’s going on in China and people need to be informed on issues so that everyone can be more aware of things the Chinese government wishes they didn’t know.

“It really comes down to if you care or not,” Villanueva said. “People have a lack of understanding, and when it comes down to it, Americans don’t really dig deep into the issues and don’t understand what the issue is as a whole, and because of that, they don’t think it’s a problem.”

Olympians Compete Despite Controversy

The U.S. decided against sending diplomats to Beijing for the Olympics in protest of China’s human rights violations, calling it a “diplomatic boycott.”

“It wasn’t anything huge, they came out with a formal statement saying they’re not going to go to things like the opening ceremony, whereas you have [Vladmir] Putin for instance there,”AP Government teacher Joshua Posegate said. “But that’s more or less all it really was. We didn’t go to the extent of not having athletes there, it was more of a, ‘Hey, we’re not going to support you’ than anything else.”

The last time something like that had happened was 1980 when the Carter administration pulled out of the Olympics and barred athletes from competing in Moscow, while the Soviet Union was in power. The boycott was seen as a failure, however, with nothing much changing in terms of the actions of the Soviet Union. With this year’s boycott, many think it was the best America could do, with sportswriter and commentator Bob Costas saying, “Unsatisfying as it may be, the course of action now that the Biden administration is taking is the correct one.”

There has been a variety of controversies with the Olympics being hosted in China. For instance, a Dutch reporter was pulled away from his camera on live television by a “Public Security Volunteer,” a citizen-led neighborhood watch established to help police maintain order, according to Yahoo! Sports.

The food the athletes have been given has been described as, among other things, “extremely questionable,” and the living conditions were described as miserable. When discussing the idea of potential protests from athletes at the games, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged athletes to not protest against China while they participated in the Olympics, saying that athletes are “there to compete,” and to “not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless. [While] there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there … I also worry about what the Chinese government might do to their reputations, to their families.” In the end, it has always been difficult to protest any of the controversial issues in China, and doing so could potentially ruin someone’s chances of succeeding in China and their territories.