U.S. and Allied Diplomats Boycott Beijing Winter Olympics in Protest of China’s Human Rights Violations

The United States and nine diplomatic allies have boycotted the Beijing Winter Olympics protesting China’s repression of human rights. Washington has accused Beijing of detaining more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang detention camps.

Ethnic Uyghur protest against China’s repression. (Photo by Lumiereist, Shutterstock.com)
Ethnic Uyghur protest against China’s repression. (Photo by Lumiereist, Shutterstock.com)

The U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Lithuania, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia have not sent dignitaries to the Beijing Winter games February 4 – 20. The nations did send athletes to compete.  

The Biden administration announced December 6, “U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki added that the U.S. government did not feel “it was the right step to penalize athletes who had been training for this moment,” but that not sending an official U.S. delegation to the 2022 Games “could send a clear message.”

India also withdrew its diplomats after learning that a commander, who led Chinese troops in 2020 that killed 20 Indian soldiers was given the honor of carrying the Olympic torch in the relay leading up to the Games. 

On December 23, President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which received widespread bipartisan support in Congress. 

A key feature of the Act is the presumption that all goods manufactured or containing parts manufactured in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are the product of forced labor and are therefore not entitled to entry at U.S. ports. The Act also expands the  Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 by expanding sanctions to cover foreign individuals responsible for human rights abuses related to forced labor.

More than a million Uyghurs and other minorities are believed to be held in forced labor camps and subjected to torture. Families are separated and children are taken away for re-education, according to the State Department and human rights groups.


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