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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., on Tuesday discussed the Beijing Olympics, his personal call with the Coca-Cola about their participation in the Chinese market, and the trend of U.S. companies cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in an interview with Fox News Digital.
Carter, along with 24 other representatives on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, signed a January letter to the Coca-Cola Company condemning cooperation with the CCP. Carter took particular interest in the soda conglomerate, as Coca-Cola is headquartered in Georgia and has previously made public political statements against voting bills in his state.
“Coca-Cola reached out to me because … it’s a Georgia company, and I’m the only Georgian on that committee. So, we set up a call, and we did have a call with them. And it was a very frank discussion,” Carter told Fox News Digital. “The question I have for them is, ‘Why do Black lives matter here in America, but in China Muslim Uyghur lives don’t matter? How can you not be consistent in your involvement with these kinds of issues?'”
Coca-Cola’s participation in the Beijing Olympics as one of the top sponsors has been routinely questioned by critics as China continues its ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. The criticism is compounded by the company’s persistent commentary on U.S. political issues.
While remaining silent on human rights abuses in China, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey openly criticized Georgia’s election security law. “This legislation is wrong and needs to be remedied, and we will continue to advocate for it both in private and now even more clearly in public,” the executive previously said. In addition, Quincey released a strongly worded statement on behalf of the company, expressing “disappointment” at the failure of the bill.
Rep. Buddy Carter asks questions during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on May 14, 2020 in Washington. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
Carter says their domestic activism doesn’t hold up to scrutiny in the context of their larger markets.
“They inserted themselves into Black Lives Matter. They inserted themselves into the Election Integrity Act in the state of Georgia. And they made such a big deal about both of them being wrong – and they have the right to do that,” Carter said. “But if you’re gonna do that, I think it’s hypocritical to be a major sponsor of the Olympics in a country where you know this is going on, and you’re gonna turn a blind eye to it.”
“They were somewhat defensive as you can expect,” Carter continued.
The congressman said the soda titan outlined their supply chain and assured Carter that there was no use of forced labor in the production of Coca-Cola in China.
“And you know, I believe them. But come on. You know it’s going on in this country. The bottom line is the revenue,” Carter said. “You can slice it, dice it anyway you want to, but at the end of the day it comes down to the bottom line.”
Carter acknowledged that the companies are not alone in their responsibility to boycott Chinese events – just as guilty, the congressman said, is the Olympic committee itself.
“Again, these companies, they’re gonna make the argument that these Olympics would have continued on with or without our support. I would beg to differ,” Carter said. “If these companies had boycotted sponsoring these Olympics in Beijing, they would have gotten the attention of the Chinese Communist Party. And they would have gotten the attention especially of the Olympic Committee. Let’s make sure we don’t give them a free pass here. This all could have been avoided if they had moved the location.”
Exiled Tibetans in Dharmsala, India, use the Olympic rings as a prop to protest holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
Carter questioned the effectiveness of diplomatic boycotts such as those announced by President Biden’s administration. He pointed to the growing influence China wields over American culture, most notably in the realm of sports.
“I am totally put out by the NBA. They turn a blind eye all the time with what they’re doing in China. Yet here’s a league that again is supporting Black Lives Matter – and that’s fine – but they want to turn a blind eye on what is going on in China. Because China is a big next step for them – China is a big part of their global market.”
Carter went on to praise the U.S. Women’s Tennis Association, which publicly denounced the treatment of Chinese tennis players. The association refused to attend any events held in China after the country’s star player, Peng Shuai, was silenced following her accusations of sexual assault from a Chinese official.
Peng Shuai’s accusations of sexual assault against former vice premier were scrubbed almost immediately from the internet in China. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)
“I would certainly be remiss if I did not compliment the Women’s Tennis Association in taking a stand against having any tournaments in China as a result of what has happened to the star tennis player who has accused Chinese officials of sexual assault,” Carter said. “And I applaud them for that. I wish more of our sports authorities had the kind of backbone they have.”
China Daily European Union bureau chief Chen Weihua, a notable mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, voiced his anger at the Holocaust Memorial Museum after it compared the ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the Xijian region of China to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.
“At the [Olympics] you’ll see a well-known tradition – the torch relay – which the Nazis used at the 1936 Olympics for propaganda purposes,” the museum wrote Tuesday about the games. “Today, we witness how the Olympics can still be used to distract from atrocities, such as the persecution of the [Uyghurs].”
“Shame on the Holocaust Museum. Are you saying Nazi Holocaust of Jews was nothing but vocational training?” Weihua responded to the museum on social media. “More than 30,000 Jews sought refuge in Shanghai during the war and this is now your appreciation to the Chinese people?”