Given that Washington views China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims as “genocide,” the US is leaning on the demands of activists wanting Western countries to boycott the Games.
A boycott “is something we certainly want to discuss,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday, adding that the US would try to coordinate any boycott with “our allies and partners.”
Such a boycott would please activist groups accusing Beijing of attempting to ethnically cleanse the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, northwest China. The country has rejected allegations of mass imprisonment, forced labor and torture from the West, and has insisted that “re-education” of the Uighur population is necessary to combat extremism.
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Calls for boycott came mainly from these activist groups, which include the World Uyghur Congress and various other organizations representing China’s ethnic minorities. However, several US lawmakers have thrown their support behind the boycott movement. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Florida) passed a resolution in February calling for a boycott, but senior Democrats have not indicated whether they would support such a move.
Before former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Washington in January, he declared China’s treatment of the Uyghurs a “genocide”. His successor, Antony Blinken, also used the word “genocide” to describe Beijing’s behavior, and the Biden government issued a joint statement with the UK and Canada last month condemning Beijing’s “human rights abuses and abuses” before she condemned two Chinese government officials for sanctioning these alleged abuses.
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When asked last week whether President Joe Biden would boycott the games – after supporting Major League Baseball’s recent decision to reschedule the season’s All Star game in protest of a new Georgia state election security law – press secretary Jen focused Psaki her answer to defending Biden’s support of MLB and not the boycott question. Two months earlier, Psaki said that the Biden government “is not currently talking about changing our stance or our plans regarding the Beijing Olympics”.
The United States boycotted the Olympic Games only once, when Moscow hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics after invading Afghanistan the previous year. Without ordering athletes to stay home as it did in 1980, the US could simply refuse to send government officials or dignitaries to the Games, a position supported by Human Rights Watch and Utah Senator Mitt Romney.
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China has seen the boycott movement badly, and government spokesman Guo Weimin said last month the movement was “an attempt to disrupt and sabotage the Games.”
“These acts are against the Olympic spirit. We believe the steps have no support from the international community and are doomed to fail, ”added Guo.
Whatever the Biden administration decides, the games are slated to begin on February 4, 2022.
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