Two Lawmakers Propose Ban on Firms Backing Beijing Games

A bipartisan pair of U.S. representatives is proposing a law that would ban companies who sponsor or do business with the 2022 Beijing Olympics from selling their products or services to the federal government or in federal buildings or installations, including military bases.

The proposal goes much further than what Republican and Democratic leaders in the House have proposed, but it is a sign of the broad bipartisan frustration in Congress over China’s behavior on a range of issues from human rights in the Xinjiang region to transparency over the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Hitting their bottom lines seems to be the only thing that will ultimately get their attention,” said Republican Representative Mike Waltz from Florida, who is sponsoring the bill. “And they’re either going to do business with the federal government or continue to sponsor these games. But we’re going to make them choose.”

Waltz, a former Green Beret, is introducing the bill Friday with Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey and a former State Department official. Waltz sits on the Armed Services Committee and Malinowski sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We should not be holding the Olympics in a country where the government is currently engaged in genocide and crimes against humanity,” Malinowski said in a statement.

China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is abusing human rights in Xinjiang or elsewhere and has labeled criticism from abroad as interference in its internal affairs. Beijing says it is fighting terrorism while providing economic opportunities to adults and education to children in the western region.

The legislation being introduced Friday directs the heads of executive agencies and the defense secretary not to enter into contracts with companies or people who have “business operations with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games or the International Olympic Committee.” It wouldn’t apply to contracts the secretaries of State or Defense determine to be in the interest of national security.

The ban would be lifted if companies withdraw their support from the Games, which are scheduled to begin Feb. 4.

“This section shall not apply with respect to a person that terminates business operations with the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games or the International Olympic Committee within 30 days after the date of the enactment of this section,” according to the legislation.

If passed by Congress and signed by the president, the practical effect of the law would be to ban products produced by those companies from being sold in federal buildings or installations, parks and military bases -- anywhere the federal government enters into contracts with vendors to provide services.

Some of the major partners of the 2022 Games include Coca-Cola Co., Intel Corp., Proctor & Gamble Co. and Visa Inc., according to the Beijing 2022 website.

Criticism of the decision to hold the games in Beijing has been growing in Congress. In recent weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed a proposal first raised in the Senate for a diplomatic boycott of the event, in which athletes and coaches could attend and compete but the U.S. would send no official delegation of government leaders.

Language calling on the Biden administration to take that step has been added to a large package of China-related legislation that is moving through the Senate.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.