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US announces diplomatic boycott of China 2022 Olympics – here’s what that means

President Joe Biden delivers remarks Aug. 31, 2021, in front of the Cross Hall of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
December 06, 2021

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said on Monday afternoon that the U.S. will be holding a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics in China.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses,” Psaki said.

“We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” Psaki added. “U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games 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 pushed back against calling it a “boycott,” insisting that the U.S. will be cheering on and supporting American athletes from home and that the decision is “just an indication will not be business as usual.”

The boycott doesn’t mark the end of the United States’ opposition to China’s human rights abuses, Psaki added.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said such a boycott would be an “outright political provocation” and accused the U.S. of grandstanding, but did not describe how China would respond.

 “Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is purely wishful thinking and grandstanding,” Zhao told reporters at a press briefing. “If the U.S. side is bent on going its own way, China will take firm countermeasures.”

Psaki said she couldn’t speak to a potential Chinese retaliation, but said, “The PRC should be taking action on issues to meet the needs of the global community.”

Some argued that the Biden administration’s diplomatic boycott didn’t go far enough in sending a message to China.

“The United States should fully boycott the Genocide Games in Beijing,” Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement. “American businesses should not financially support the Chinese Communist Party and we must not expose Team USA to the dangers of a repugnant authoritarian regime that disappears its own athletes.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the boycott “not enough,” adding, “The CCP doesn’t give a rip about a diplomatic boycott, because at the end of the day, they are still hosting the world’s athletes. Joe Biden needs to stand up to the CCP.”

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Daily Caller News Foundation that the diplomatic boycott was “a joke,” adding that “China doesn’t care if Biden and his team show up. They want our athletes.”

Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, called the boycott “a crucial step toward challenging the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities.”