US President Considers Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Olympics

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The United States (US) is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, President Joe Biden confirmed, as the move would be aimed at protesting China’s human rights record, including what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims.

A diplomatic boycott would mean that US officials would not attend the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

A US decision not to send diplomats would be a rebuke of Chinese President Xi Jinping just days after Xi and Biden worked to ease tensions in a virtual summit, their first extensive talks since Biden took office in January.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) with United State President Joe Biden (R)

“Something we’re considering,” Biden said when asked if a diplomatic boycott was under consideration as he sat down for a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Activists and members of Congress from both parties have been pressing the Biden administration to diplomatically boycott the event given that the US government accuses China of carrying out a genocide against Muslim ethnic groups in its western Xinjiang region, something that Beijing denies.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told a regular briefing on Thursday that US consideration of a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics was driven by concerns about human rights practices in Xinjiang province.

Demonstrators protesting China’s treatment of minority Muslims in Xinjiang province

“There are areas that we do have concerns: human rights abuses. We have serious concerns. Certainly there are a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be,” Psaki told reporters, while declining to provide a timeline for a decision.

“I want to leave the president the space to make decisions,”  she added.

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was talking to countries around the world about “how they’re thinking about participation,” but left a deadline for a decision unclear.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a diplomatic boycott, saying global leaders who attend would lose their moral authority.  Some Republican lawmakers have been calling for a complete boycott of the Olympics.

 

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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