April 10th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain: I would not attend unless China changes

(CNN) - John McCain said Thursday he would not attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics unless China changes some of its human rights practices.

"I believe President Bush should evaluate his participation in the ceremonies surrounding the Olympics and, based on Chinese actions, decide whether it is appropriate to attend," he said in the statement. "If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies. It does no service to the Chinese government, and certainly no service to the people of China, for the United States and other democracies to pretend that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us. It does, will and must concern us."

(Full statement after the jump)

"Our relationship with China is important, and we value our ability to cooperate with the Chinese government on a wide variety of strategic, economic, and diplomatic fronts. But the Chinese government needs to understand that in our modern world, how a nation treats its citizens is a legitimate subject of international concern. China has signed numerous international agreements that make China's treatment of its citizens a subject of legitimate international concern, not just a matter of national sovereignty. To be a responsible stakeholder in the modern world, a government must also be responsible at home, in protecting, not trampling, the rights of its people.

"I deplore the violent crackdown by Chinese authorities and the continuing oppression in Tibet of those merely wishing to practice their faith and preserve their culture and heritage. I have listened carefully to the Dalai Lama and am convinced he is a man of peace who reflects the hopes and aspirations of Tibetans. I urge the government of the People's Republic of China to address the root causes of unrest in Tibet by opening a genuine dialogue with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, aimed at granting greater autonomy. I urge the Chinese authorities to ensure peaceful protest is not met with violence, to release monks and others detained for peacefully expressing their views and to allow full outside access to Tibet.

"I understand and respect Prime Minister Brown's decision not to attend the Olympic opening ceremonies. I believe President Bush should evaluate his participation in the ceremonies surrounding the Olympics and, based on Chinese actions, decide whether it is appropriate to attend. If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies. It does no service to the Chinese government, and certainly no service to the people of China, for the United States and other democracies to pretend that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us. It does, will and must concern us."

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Johnny Boy

    does anybody really think it will make ANY difference if bush doesn't go to the opening ceremonies. I think he should go to support the athletes, if he doesn't go though I doubt anybody will even notice, bush is a moron!
    he reminds me of a priviledged dork that inherits the very successful family business then being a complete and total moron runs it into the ground. I don't think there is anybody that could have done a worse job then bush! the guy just doesn't know how to manage ANYTHING.

    April 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. EBC

    Sen. McCain, that's NOT very realistic and smart. Clinton/Bush has GIVEN China enormous leverage in trade agreements, etc.

    THEY are not going to change NOW just because of the Olympic Games are you kidding me? I mean WHY should they? I mean WHERE was Sen. Clinton during the Clinton years? WHERE was Sen. McCain years ago? WHY voice all this nonsense NOW? Because they are in a presidential RACE, nothing more. THEY WANT OUR VOTES!!!

    Both Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain's protest is nothing MORE than a political screen because both of them had years to voice their protests, but they didn't. Sen. Clinton herself could have focused her "First Lady" years and her Senate years to voice her protest, but SHE DIDN'T.

    People really need to step back and think about these political "hypes" that are being shoved down our throats. It's really ridiculous to say the least.

    I'm just grateful that Sen. Obama hasn't jump in on the "holier than thou" bandwagon. It's just silly.

    Our American Atheletes need our support, Bush and everyone else can raise HELL before, After and during the games, but I don't think they should ACT like they truly concern all of a sudden when we all know it's all about the political primary.

    April 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Cyrano

    I think it is abundantly clear by now that the Chinese government cannot be allowed to use its "economic muscle" to threaten the community of nations into supporting policies that everyone knows are in violation of human rights. Showing solidarity with China provides this type of support to China's image worldwide. The Olympics is an unmatched opportunity to place China's offenses in the limelight and to create an uproar of response from the world community... which otherwise ignores these things for the most part. It's unfortunate that politics have become a part of this game. But, it is already the case, so now the U.S. needs to take the strong moral stance against China's abuses. The world community can hurt China's economy a lot more than China can hurt any other nation's economy. So, China will be forced to either straighten up or fall out of grace.... regardless of how pissed off it is that it does not receive its full Olympic glory.

    Even though the U.S. has its own serious human rights abuses, it doesn't mean we shouldn't take the right stand towards China. To argue that it makes us hypocritical is besides the point right now. We all must focus on upholding civil rights in our countries and around the world.

    April 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. david


    April 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Michael, Canada

    McCain should get over himself. Does he honestly think China will 'change' from now until the Olympics start just because 'he' wants it? And this man wants to be President? I'm laughing so hard I can hardly type. 🙂

    April 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. shelly

    trying to make yourself a head of state before you vow not to attend the opening ceremony because I don't think you are on the guest list at all. PS: does the U.S. have other effective leverage except boycotting Olympics?

    April 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Stephina

    I'm glad to hear that both McCain and Clinton are for boycotting the Olympics in China.

    China does not embrace what the spirit of what the olympic games stand for and should have NEVER been allowed to host these games in the first place.

    I'm also tired of US companies shipping all the jobs overseas to China, Korea and India. That includes all the telephone customer service positions for banks and retailers.

    I would gladly pay more for products to be manufactured in the United States and to have our citizens employeed then purchase something cheaply made overseas.

    BTW: I have never been inside a Wall Mart store. There is just a gross feeling about a store that sells fruit, vegitables, underware and gun amo all under one roof – Disgusting.

    April 10, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. dennis from Plymouth

    How arrogant we are. Why would China invite or even allow our president to attend the ceremonies? He’s a war criminal. Why wouldn't other countries that contest our invasion of Iraq protest our inclusion? If we have issues with China's human rights violations, why do we not have issues with our own inequities? Such hypocrisy. Will the U.S. broadcast the Olympics, or should sponsors pour money into the event given the controversy? If it is not about politics, then why are government officials invited? Are the Olympics about athleticism? Or are they really about governments? Perhaps they are about MONEY!!

    April 10, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Mike

    How far can Bush take hypocrisy? After Iraq, Abu Ghraib, waterboarding, the shredding of the Constitution, Guantanamo, spying on citizens and the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004, he has unbelievable nerve lecturing the Chinese about rights violations. Sure, individual citizens have every right to protest, but not Bush and this administration.

    April 10, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Drew

    Ofcourse McCain trying to do the new cool thing just to get elected.

    April 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Greenwood

    A boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony is bad idea. Why don't we focus on our own issues instead of making noises like a bunch of mad dogs? You have to understand that majority people in China against those ideas. It has nothing to do with human rights!

    April 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Tracy

    I am with Eric and al snyder: I REFUSE to watch the Olympics this year and I am doing my best to NOT buy products that are made in China. This last part, unfortunately, is not an easy task. I understand that the Olympics is about the athletes but the US has boycotted previous Olympics so for those who believe the Olympics should not become a venue for politics- it has already been done in the past. And, it is not any one issue that has lead to me this decision of boycott, rather it is culmination of everything that is wrong with China in this world: tainted drugs, lead paint, human rights abuses, support for the genocide in Dufar, repression of their people, etc, etc. If we really want to make a point to our elected officials, all Americans need to boycott the Olympics AND boycott those things made in China. If we demand products that are made in the USA, then Americans get to go back to work. Isn't that a nice thought????

    April 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Sarah

    Don't attend the but still borrow money from China for the WAR!!!!!

    April 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Brian - Trinidad

    Boycotting the Olympics won't work.Why?Having lived in a country where 2 Olympics were held,I can tell you the public pride in hosting and witnessing the Olympics in your country far exceeds anything you ever experience on a countrywide basis.And the animosity you feel towards anyone who does anything to hurt your Olympics is lasting.The people of China will neither forget nor forgive those who boycott their Olympics.Yes,the Chinese Government benefits big as well,but before you boycott,give a thought to the millions of ordinary Chinese for whom this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something truly remarkable and different.

    April 10, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Mr. McCain, we don't care if you go to TIMBUCKTO. Take Bush
    Cheney, Liberman, Lindsey Graham, Clinton, Rice with you.Get
    a one way ticket, because we don't want you back. Dubai is ready
    for the millionaires that bankrupt our land. Dubai, the haven for
    the Rich and Famous.

    April 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. lppp

    Do your guys know China, know Tibet. Know what happen a couple of weeks ago in Tibet. No. you know nothing. CNN , BBC ... are biased and dishonest medium!!!!!

    April 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Len, Colorado


    Blame your state's legislature for not obeying rules!

    April 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. woogie

    It was the Clinton administration that gave Chine most favored nation status for trade.

    It was Hillary who sat on the board of Walmart.

    Who really gave China the keys to the bank?

    April 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Scott, Wichita

    Ok, so why does everyone jump on McCain for doing this? The other two did the same

    Hillary/Obama's turn:


    Senator McCain, I apologize for all the people who can't see both sides of the coin.

    I support a Free Tibet, but apparently everyone criticizing McCain doesn't. Shame on you for your hypocritical views.

    ~Haven't Decided Yet '08

    April 10, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Jedi Academy

    Not attending the ceremonies WILL DO NOTHING! Bush and McCain need to go to Beijing. Not going not only dishonors China, it dishonors the spirit of the olympic games.

    April 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. JR

    I didn't even know that Chinese had invited John Mccain to attend. Do they really care if he's not going?

    April 10, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Herman LA, CA

    This man has not gotten any criticism what so ever in the media and has gotten a free ride in the press, while Hillary tired to beat down Barack.

    Can you say Shiite & Sunni, how many times have McCain got this wrong.

    Get him off of "The View"

    Yep and all of you women lovers out there for John McCain opposes “Roe vs. Wade”

    Yea go ahead and vote for McCain go ahead and make my day and you won't even have a choice with your own bodies.

    Obama 08!!!

    April 10, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Stacy Clarks,

    I say they all boycott!! why are we so scared of China, yes we owe them money, but remember we are their biggest customer, and importer...

    they are not going anywhere, let's make them change their ways!!!!

    April 10, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. ron

    They have not changed in thousands of years. What makes you think they will change in a few months

    April 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Olivia

    China's shortcomings on human rights will not change in the short-term, if ever.
    No olympics for you. I do feel disapproval should be shown in some form.

    April 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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