U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) warned this week against sending athletes to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Cotton’s warning goes beyond the usual concerns of human rights violations rife within China, but also speaks to the direct safety of the athletes. If you know the evidence at hand, you know these concerns are more than warranted, and that the United States should think twice about sending anyone to these games.
In an email sent out, which Fox News obtained, Cotton warned that China’s invasive surveillance could pose a direct risk to athletes and provide a ripe target for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to steal digital and physical information from American competitors and their support staff.
China’s propensity for hacking and tracking everyone about everything is well known. Less known is China’s desire to collect and track American biological data.
In Cotton’s words, “In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China. Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the CCP… Thus, we should expect that the Chinese government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19.”
Why could the Chinese government do this? Cotton continues: “[T]he CCP…considers DNA collection a vital intelligence-gathering objective” and “has reportedly conducted tests to develop biologically-enhanced soldiers and intends to use DNA data to catapult Chinese biotechnology companies to global market dominance.”
Whether this is true for the Olympics is open for debate. However, China’s hunger for that exact kind of data is not open for debate. It is what they want.
In early January of this year, a CBS News and 60 Minutes investigation uncovered “the emerging threat of China’s push to acquire our health care data, including the DNA of American citizens. U.S. officials tell us the communist regime’s aggressive collection of our most personal information presents a danger both to national security and our economy.”
Former U.S. intelligence officials went on the record with concerns that companies connected with China were using the dire need for COVID-19 tests as a front to collect American DNA and other biodata. The warnings were clear: If a testing company was connected to China, it should be avoided at all costs.
NPR added: “U.S. officials add that DNA collection by Chinese companies, even when done openly and legally, should be seen as part of a comprehensive effort to vacuum up millions and millions of records on U.S. citizens. And many Chinese efforts violate U.S. law, the officials say.”
The Chinese push for American biological data, including DNA, is not specific to foreign targets; this is an active practice in mainland China. In July of 2020, The New York Times released an in-depth report detailing how China had built a database of 700 million Chinese men to keep tabs on them for crime-tracking purposes.
Yes, you read that right. Seven hundred million men in China are being tracked genetically as a form of crime prevention. It’s something straight out of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. But between their massive data collection operation, combined with the biodata they’ve collected on everyone, domestically, China’s government is straight out of the very worst Orwellian nightmare.
And it’s not just average citizens. China is using this data to track dissidents and wipe out minority groups like Uyghur Muslims. Present-day China is the closest thing the modern world has seen to old-school Nazi tactics, but it’s combined with a far more terrifying technological angle.
These issues aren’t just being raised by intelligence and government officials. In the publication Nature, scientists have been sounding the same alarm bells and describing China’s actions as a unique threat. “This collection has nothing to do with crime — it has to do with oppression,” said Maya Wang, a researcher with the Hong Kong-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch.
China has been after American data in general for years. Multiple government hacks and data leaks from private corporations have given them a treasure trove of information on nearly all Americans. Some experts estimate that as many as 80% of all Americans have had some of their data stolen by the Chinese Communist Party.
All of this brings us back to Tom Cotton and the Olympics. Leftist critics want to paint Cotton out as some lunatic who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
They did this when Cotton raised early concerns over COVID-19 in January of 2020, well before most people could even spell “coronavirus.” He’s warning again here, pointing out the very obvious: It is well within current Chinese government interests to steal DNA and other biological samples from American athletes.
China is already doing this in a number of areas. Why would we assume they’d suddenly not take advantage of a prime opportunity like the Olympics?
The United States shouldn’t stand for this. If we can’t guarantee the safety of our athletes and American citizens, then we should not participate in those games.
The Olympics are important, and I get that. But enabling China is even worse. The Biden administration should stand up to China at this moment, protect its citizens, and advocate for other countries to do the same.