Allison Welch


China’s human rights record has been the subject of intense scrutiny. Therefore, when China was chosen to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the decision was predictably controversial. There were calls for boycotts of the opening ceremony by many international actors, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and an assortment of political figures. Institutions such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom argued that boycotting the games would bring critical attention to China’s troubled human rights record, which would ultimately provoke Beijing to alter its controversial policies. Others argued that boycotting the games would only serve to intensify China’s human rights abuses by unifying the Chinese government in the face of international hostility. This paper examines the human rights climate leading up to the Olympic Games, the Chinese government’s reaction to protests and boycotts, and the outcome of the controversy.

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