Daniella Flores | Writer
December 12, 2021
On Monday, the Biden administration announced that it will not send any “diplomatic or official representation” to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the United States will boycott the Olympics as a statement against “China’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” an autonomous region in the country.
Human rights activists and congressional Republicans have called for a boycott of the games since the world became aware of China’s mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnicities and religions in Xinjiang, its policies toward Tibet and Taiwan, and oppression of protestors in Hong Kong. The United States’ choice to boycott the games only escalates the pressure being put on China over the allegations.
Psaki made it clear that the U.S. is sending a message that any American diplomatic or official representation would constitute the games as “business as usual” in the face of the atrocities in Xinjiang, something the White House could not condone.
During the White House briefing, Psaki said that Team USA athletes “have our full support,” and that the Biden administration “will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home,” despite the fact that no government officials would be sent to the games. The same policy is already in place for the Paralympic Games, set to begin in March of 2022 in Beijing.
The Winter Olympics were not a topic of conversation during the November summit that Biden and President Xi held. Although the summit didn’t produce any major breakthroughs, Biden did raise concerns about human rights, as well China’s aggression toward Taiwan and trade issues.
“I think that the United States is absolutely doing the right thing by not sending government officials to the games,” junior Tessa Campbell said. “They are definitely sending a strong message that the Chinese government’s treatment of certain people in its country is far from okay.”
“The fact that China continues to treat people like this after mass genocides in world history such as the Holocaust is appalling,” junior Emma Massimiri said. “I think that more countries should definitely join the White House in this decision to boycott so that China will stop treating people so horribly.”
Earlier this year, the Biden administration had announced that it would no longer accept the import of the materials used in solar panels from a company in Xinjiang after allegations of forced labor and human rights abuses surfaced. The exports of five additional Chinese companies were also restricted.
Since the White House has announced its diplomatic boycott of the games, China has threatened the Biden administration, warning that the move could harm bilateral relations.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said at a news conference on Tuesday, “Out of ideological bias and based on lies and rumors, the US is trying to disrupt the Beijing Winter Olympics. This will only expose its sinister intention and further erode its moral authority and credibility.”
He went on to say that this was a wrong move by the U.S. and that the atmosphere of China-U.S. sports exchanges would suffer.
Although Beijing does not seem to be too disturbed about the absence of United States officials, the situation could turn ugly if more countries decide to mirror the move. Countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have already expressed their consideration for a diplomatic boycott.