On Monday, the Biden Administration announced the United States will enforce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki disclosed the administration could not ignore the “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang” and will not be sending an official delegate to represent the nation, hoping this will “send a clear message”; the administration does not wish to “penalize the athletes who had been training for this moment” so Americans will not be barred from still competing. The diplomatic boycott has received bipartisan support, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi wholeheartedly agreed that the nation could not proceed in support of hosting the Olympics in “a country perpetrating genocide”. Officials in Australia, Japan, and the UK have announced considering similar measures.
Zhao Lijian, China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, responded that the announcement represents a “travesty of the Olympic spirit” and will be taken as “an offense to the 1.4 billion Chinese people”. Zhao continued that if the U.S. was insistent on continuing down the “wrong path” China will be forced to take “necessary and resolute countermeasures”. The government also dismissed the announcement as irrelevant, citing COVID restrictions as a reason dignitaries would not be invited regardless. As of Tuesday, the Chinese social media platform Weibo, with over 500 million users, censored all search topics regarding “U.S. diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics”.
Chinese leadership is responsible for systematic policies of mass detention, cultural persecution, and the torture of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, the northwest territory of China. Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, reveals that Chinese authorities have been persecuting Turkic Muslims for years, recently reaching unprecedented levels. What government officials claim to be “transformation-through-education” centers that provide “vocational and deradicalization training” are ultimately internment camps, with restrictions on practicing Islam and forced labor. It is evident these actions satisfy the standard for “crimes against humanity” under international criminal law, claims Beth Van Schaack, an associate at the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice.
The Women’s Tennis Association has fully boycotted the 2022 Olympics; Steve Simon, the association chair, announced they did not feel comfortable sending their athletes to compete with such grotesque violations occurring, including the recent sexual assault claims made by world No. 1 doubles player Peng Shuai. Simon publicized the women will not be competing while “Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault”. This November, Peng Shuai took to social media, accusing a 75-year-old former Chinese official of sexually assaulting her. The post was quickly taken down and Peng was not seen in public for the following two weeks. Psaki told reporters there was deep concern that “Peng Shuai appears to be missing after accusing a former PRC (People’s Republic of China) senior official of sexual assaults.” The WTA threatened to pull out of the lucrative Chinese part of its tour next season until there is sufficient evidence that Peng is safe and free from coercion.
Jordan Lamb is the Content Editor for the Texas Horn. Growing up in Austin, she is a Government major at UT with concentrations in Chinese and Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is a team-oriented individual who is passionate about leadership, government, and law.