The White House confirmed Monday that the United States will boycott a diplomat for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in protest of human rights abuses in China, a move China has vowed to accept with “strong countermeasures.”
White House Press Secretary, Jin Psaki, says the American athletes will continue to compete and “have our full support,” but added, “We will not contribute to the fanfare of the matches.”
“We simply cannot tolerate the blatant human rights violations committed by the People’s Republic of China in Xinjiang,” Psaki told reporters during Monday’s briefing.
“We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. We feel strongly in our position and will continue to take measures to promote human rights in China and abroad.”
President Joe Biden will host this week’s White House Democracy Summit, a virtual gathering of civil society leaders and experts from more than 100 countries that will take place on Thursday and Friday. The administration said Biden intended to use the call “to announce individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.”
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, called the diplomatic boycott “a necessary step to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights in the face of rampant abuses by the Chinese government.”
The New Jersey Democratic senator urged “allies and other partners who share our values to join the United States in the diplomatic boycott.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused US politicians of working in the exhibition on the issue of sending official figures to the competitions. China hopes the Olympic event in February will be the stage for its economic development and technological achievements.
Speaking to the press at a daily conference, Zhao said the boycott would be a “direct political provocation,” although he did not say how China would respond.