White House Confirms Biden Administration Not Discussing Beijing Olympics Boycott

April 7, 2021 Updated: April 7, 2021

The White House reiterated that the Biden administration isn’t discussing a joint boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, noting that the United States is still planning to attend the event.

The confirmation comes April 7, after the State Department initially said yesterday that it was discussing with allies whether to consider a potential joint boycott, before the department later backtracked.

The Biden administration continued with the finding by the Trump administration that China was committing genocide with its repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. During the daily briefing, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki why this finding hasn’t warranted a response or action from the United States, and also inquired what the country might need to see from China before it fully participates in the Olympics.

“Just to be very clear and reiterate—our position has not changed in our planned participation,” Psaki responded.

“However, we are working as we would be on any issue in coordination with our partners and allies about a range of concerns we have with China’s behavior and their actions, including the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China, including actions China has taken as it relates to economic and security steps. And so, that is something we would do in partnership and coordination with our partners in the region.

“Just like any relationship, there are areas where we feel we can work together, areas where we have great concerns—we voice those—we don’t hold back on those as the president did in his call.”

The press secretary was referring to a call Biden had with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in February.

With calls for a boycott growing over China’s human rights record, State Department spokesman Ned Price on April 6 repeated concerns over what Washington has described as genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Asked if the United States was consulting allies over whether to consider a potential joint boycott, Price told a media briefing: “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss.

“We understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests, but also in the interests of our allies and partners.”

Price later clarified in an email that he was referring to the United States having a coordinated approach rather than specifically discussing a joint boycott.

He subsequently wrote in a tweet that there was nothing new to announce, “2022 remains a ways off, but we will continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to [China].”

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman later responded to the idea of a boycott.

“International society will not accept [it],” Zhao Lijian told a news conference in Beijing on April 7.

Human rights groups have urged the IOC to take the Olympics out of China because of its treatment of Uyghur Muslims along with other human rights concerns.

An independent U.N. panel said in 2018 that it had received credible reports that at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims have been held in camps in Xinjiang.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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