White House Confirms US Will Not Send Representation to 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
18:21 GMT 06.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
© NOEL CELISPeople walk past the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo at the Shougang Park in Beijing on December 1, 2021
© NOEL CELIS
The White House announced on Monday that it would hold a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing by refusing to send any US government officials to the games.
It had long been rumored that the US would totally boycott the February 2022 games hosted by the People's Republic of China (PRC), as it has certain other games held in strategic adversaries such as the former Soviet Union.
"The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC's ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. "The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home, but we will not being contributing to the fanfare of the games."
"US diplomatic or official representation would treat these game as 'business as usual' in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that," Psaki added.
"As the president has told President Xi [Jinping], standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights and we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond," she said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said last month he was pondering a British boycott of the games, as well. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin criticized the politicization of sports, saying it should be about the players and condemning US rhetoric as going against the spirit of the Olympic Charter. However, he also noted Beijing wouldn't invite Western politicians who have called for a boycott, either.
Accusations by Western academics and politicians that Chinese anti-radicalization programs in western Xinjiang Autonomous Region amounted to a vast system of genocidal internment camps against the indigenous Muslim Uyghur population have been used to posture against the Chinese government in recent years. However, those claims have been widely debunked as the creation of neoconservatives looking to amplify anti-China sentiment as part of a new war drive.
In reality, China has faced a decades-long problem of terrorism by the al-Qaeda*-aligned group East Turkestan Islamic Front (ETIM), a separatist party that wants to turn Xinjiang into an independent state. The US once fought ETIM in Afghanistan and regarded it as a terrorist group as well, until it delisted the group in 2018 - just as the accusations of a Uyghur genocide began to appear in Western academic circles.
ETIM has also sent as many as 10,000 fighters to fight alongside US-backed, al-Qaeda-aligned rebels in Syria, where they remain in the northern Idlib Governorate.
On Sunday, China released its own report on the dire state of human rights in the United States, its second such document in the last year. The report blasted "problems like money politics, identity politics, wrangling between political parties, political polarization, social division, racial tension, and a wealth gap." It was provoked by an impending US-hosted Summit for Democracy that will include such controversial representations as Juan Guaido, the US-backed, self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, and a delegation from Taiwan, which the US has formally agreed with China is not a real country. Beijing regards Taiwan as a Chinese province in rebellion.
*a terrorist organization banned in many countries