WASHINGTON – The International Olympic Committee's choice of Beijing as the site of the 2008 Olympic Games was denounced quickly Friday by congressional critics of the communist leadership there.
"It truly boggles the mind," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the House International Relations Committee's top Democrat. "This decision will allow the Chinese police state to bask in the reflected glory of the Olympic Games despite having one of the most abominable human rights records in the world."
At the White House, President Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice noted that it was an IOC decision to give China the games and said the Bush administration would pursue human rights concerns through other bilateral contacts.
"The president has made very clear that human rights will be on the agenda," Rice said. In the meantime, she said, "What we do know is that American athletes are going to go there and they're going to compete and hopefully compete very well and bring home lots of gold medals."
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a member of the International Relations Committee, condemned the IOC's decision, saying, "Anyone who thinks that giving Beijing the Olympics is going to improve human rights in China ought to look at what giving Nazi Germany the Olympics did for human rights there in 1936."
"We have just sent China one big wrong signal and that is that the civilized nations of the world are not really concerned enough about their human rights abuses and their militarism to treat them any differently than a democratic country," he said.
Rep. Christopher Smith, R-Calif., a fellow committee member and a leader on China issues, said giving Chinese the games while they "hold American citizens and permanent residents hostage is a disgrace. It sends a dangerous message to the communist leadership that their egregious violations of human rights, persecution of religious believers and harassment of American citizens may continue without any consequences."