Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has become the highest American politician to call for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics following China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Pelosi urged the United States and other nations not to send high-level delegations, in a bid to step up pressure on the Chinese government over its persecution of Uyghurs, which the Biden administration called ” genocide”.
“We cannot proceed as if nothing had happened about the Olympics going to China,” Pelosi said during a hearing with the House of Representatives Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. “The past three decades have made it clear that we cannot continue to give China a blank check in the hope that its behavior will simply change.”
The Biden administration has had preliminary talks with allies, including the UK and Australia, over a diplomatic boycott, but officials say no decision has been made regarding the games. Last week, the State Department said the Chinese government had turned Xinjiang into an “open-air prison” and that the Biden administration was reconsidering its options to make sure it was not helping China out. use the games to achieve a propaganda victory.
Beijing has rejected widespread claims that it has confined more than a million Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in detention camps across the northwest region which in some cases are used for forced labor.
A diplomatic boycott would involve governments refusing to send officials or heads of state to the Olympics, an option the United States used during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to protest the anti-law. gay from russia.
“Let’s not pay homage to the Chinese government by inviting heads of state to visit China,” Pelosi said.
Several Republican lawmakers have proposed a diplomatic boycott, but Pelosi, a longtime critic of China for its human rights record, is the most senior member of Congress to push for the result.
“As the Speaker of the House and a person who has worked on China and human rights for decades, this is very important,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
“As the Chinese government has doubled, if not quadrupled, human rights crimes alongside the stubbornness and obfuscation of the International Olympic Committee, no one should be surprised at this result.”
Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who co-chairs the commission and wants the games to be moved away from China, said he would call U.S. companies involved in sponsoring the 2022 Olympics to testify before Congress.
“We are going to ask all the key players in the United States, especially Coca-Cola, to testify,” Smith told the Financial Times, adding that he also wanted to hear from Mars, the only American company to have a contract. sponsorship with the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, as opposed to the IOC.
“They may lose money, but they must realize that the money of a dictatorship that slaughters people is ill-generated gains.”
The FT recently contacted more than two dozen companies with Olympic sponsorship rights, but most declined to comment.
A spokesperson for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee did not comment on Tuesday. But he has already said he opposes boycotts. The United States last embarked on a full-scale boycott, in which it withdrew its delegation of athletes, at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.