The White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the government will not send any officials to participate in the Olympic Games starting in February due to Xinjiang’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity”. But she said that the U.S. Olympic team has “full support” from the president and his administration.
The United States has taken a hard line on the situation in Xinjiang. More than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in detention camps and used for forced labor.
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed the example of the Trump administration and described the suppression of Uyghurs as “genocide.” Biden also raised the issue of Xinjiang and human rights in a virtual meeting with President Xi Jinping last month.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington criticized the move, saying that China had not issued any invitation to participate in the Winter Olympics.
Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said: “This pretentious behavior is just political manipulation and a serious distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter.” “No one cares about whether these people will come. This will have no impact on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. “
The top Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks, called on other countries to join the Biden administration’s diplomatic boycott.
“We need to speak with one voice and make it clear that when any country, no matter how powerful, severely undermines universal human rights, silence is not an option,” Meeks said.
“The Biden administration’s announcement of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is a key step in challenging the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity committed against Uighurs and other Turkic communities,” said Sophie Richardson, Director of Human Rights Watch China .
“We are very grateful to the President and his government for their unwavering support, and we know that they will cheer for us at home this winter,” said Sarah Heshland, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
In recent months, the White House has tried to engage more with Beijing, leading to the first meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping in November.In the video call, Biden told Xi Jinping that they need to build a “guardrail” to ensure that competition between major powers “will not turn conflict“.
Biden hopes to find a way to reduce the tension on Taiwan and other issues that the Chinese military has been creating. Larger and more frequent intrusions Enter the national “air defense identification zone”. The leaders also agreed to hold exploratory talks on resolving the nuclear issue.
But the President of the United States emphasized that he will not stop criticizing China on the situation in Xinjiang. Beijing denies that it is persecuting Uyghurs and claims that Xinjiang’s detention centers are education camps.
The White House also called on Beijing to explain what happened Peng Shuai, A Chinese tennis player accused of sexual assault by a senior CCP official.
Peng disappeared from public view after making the allegations and appeared in some videos a few weeks later, one of which showed her meeting with a Chinese tennis player. Critics say that the facts she did not say herself indicate that these appearances were arranged by the Chinese government, which has censored comments about her on social media.
US Deputy Secretary of State and senior diplomat in charge of China Wendy Sherman said last month that she was “deeply concerned” and called on Beijing to “provide independent and verifiable proof of whereabouts.”
The International Olympic Committee held Two video calls Assert with Peng that she is okay. Critics accuse the association of helping the Chinese government silence Peng and say that the organization does not know if she has been coerced to answer the phone.
A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said in a statement: “The existence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision of each government. The IOC fully respects this in terms of political neutrality. At the same time, this announcement is made. It also clearly stated that the participation of the Olympic Games and athletes transcends politics, and we welcome this.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Sara Germano
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