White House press secretary Jen Psaki left open the possibility of a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing Thursday as pressure grows in Congress to punish China over its oppression of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang region.
“There hasn’t been a final decision made on that,” Psaki said Thursday when asked about the potential boycott during a press conference. “And, of course, we would look for guidance from the U.S. Olympic Committee.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee said they believe boycotts are an ineffective way to address global issues.
“We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues,” the spokesperson told Fox News.
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Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., wrote a letter to President Joe Biden this week that urged him to “work with our partners and allies to lead the free nations of the planet in a unified movement to hold this honored contest amongst nations in a country that actually lives up to the values of the Olympic Charter.”
“The actions taken by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are antithetical to the values of both the United States and its allies around the world,” Katko, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, wrote Monday. “Participation in an Olympics held in a country that is openly committing genocide not only undermines those shared values but casts a shadow on the promise for all those who seek free and just societies.”
A group of Republican Senators introduced a resolution earlier this month calling on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics out of China.
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On the last full day of the Trump administration, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims a “genocide.”
Pomepo accused the Chinese Communist Party of “forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”
The Biden administration is reviewing that determination, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken seems to agree with it, saying on his first day on the job last month that his “judgment remains that genocide was committed against the Uighurs and that hasn’t changed.”
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President Biden was criticized by some lawmakers and pundits last week when he answered a question from CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the oppression of Uyghur Muslims by saying that “there are different norms that each country and they, their leaders, are expected to follow.”
The president did go on to say that “there will be repercussions for China” and that the U.S. will “reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the U.N.”