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Keep Olympics out of China: U.S. lawmakers

Beijing 2008 poster
The Olympics committee will vote in July to select the host of the 2008 Olympics  

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers has asked the International Olympic Committee to reject China's bid to host the games in 2008.

In a non-binding resolution, 41 members of the House of Representatives, including Democratic leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Republican whip Tom DeLay of Texas called on the IOC to protest alleged rights violations.

These include Beijing's often brutal crackdown on the Falun Gong movement, which it considers an evil cult.

"This repressive regime does not deserve the international legitimacy this honor bestows," Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee told a news conference.

A companion resolution is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, who is a Republican, and Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone.

The House resolution was introduced a day after reports that China had separated a five year old U.S. citizen from his Chinese parents for almost a month, without informing the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) says the boy, Andrew Xue, and his parents were separated following their arrests at Beijing's international airport on Febuary 11.

Chinese state security agents whisked away Xue and his parents, Gao Zhan and Xue Donghua, both Chinese citizens with permanent American residency as they were about to board a flight to the U.S., HRIC said.

Under pressure

China has come under increasing pressure to clean up its human rights record as it bids to be the venue of the 2008 Olympics.

But Chinese officials have in turn urged the IOC not to mix sports and politics when it votes to select the host city in July.

Beijing says it has the backing of China's 1.3 billion people and has pledged a massive environmental and building blitz.

But key U.S. lawmakers said China's human rights record has continued to deteriorate. They cited a recent State Department report highlighting crackdowns against underground Christian groups and Tibetan Buddhists.

"Just when we thought China's human rights situation could not get any worse, it has," one House member said.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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