The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic representation or officials to the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, the White House announced Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said sending representation would "treat these games as business as usual," in the face of China's "egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang" — the region where many members of thehave faced repression or imprisonment — and the U.S. "simply can't do that." However, U.S. athletes will still compete in the games.
"The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home," Psaki said at the White House press briefing Monday.
"As the president has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans," Psaki said. "We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights, and we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond."
The U.S. was widely expected to announce a diplomatic boycott. China's foreign ministry has already accused U.S. officials of grandstanding over the possibility that it would not send U.S. government representatives to Beijing.
"The success of the Games does not rely on the attendance of a handful of countries' government officials," Tao Wang, spokesperson for China's permanent mission to the United Nations, told CBS News' Pamela Falk, adding that the U.S. decision "reflects its mentality of Cold War. The U.S. just wants to politicize sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation."
Mr. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a virtual summit last month that the White House described as "respectful." At the time, Mr. Biden expressed America's concerns about China's practices in, Tibet, and , as well as human rights more generally.
The White House's announcement was met with approval from Capitol Hill.
"A diplomatic boycott of the Games sends a powerful message to the Chinese Communist Party that the United States will not turn a blind eye to the CCP's increasing aggression globally and its disturbing human rights abuses, a list that is long and growing and includes vast and systematic repression of Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang; cultural destruction in Tibet; the silencing of those deemed threatening to the CCP, such as tennis player Peng Shuai, and companies and individuals around the world who do not adhere to the CCP's narrative; escalating threats against the people of Taiwan; and the destruction of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner.
The diplomatic boycott announcement comes the same week as President Biden will be hosting a White House Summit for Democracy, a virtual gathering of world leaders and experts with common goals of democracy and peace.
The Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 4 to February 20, 2022.
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