Amid Calls to Boycott Beijing 2022 Olympics, State Dept. Still ‘Consulting With Allies and Partners’

Patrick Goodenough | July 14, 2021 | 4:36am EDT
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A Chinese national flag is seen in front of IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, during a protest against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
A Chinese national flag is seen in front of IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, during a protest against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

( – The Biden administration is still “consulting with allies and partners” over the question of Beijing’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing Tuesday, repeating a point it has been making for the past five months.

As he spoke, campaigners rallied on the National Mall, calling for the games to be boycotted – or moved to a host city outside China – because of mass atrocities against Uyghurs and other minority Muslims in Xinjiang.

On Friday, the European Parliament voted 578-29 for a measure calling on E.U. diplomats and officials to turn down invitations to attend the 2022 games, “unless the Chinese government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.”

Since February, State Department officials have responded to questions about Beijing 2022 by saying the administration was consulting with other governments – while at times also noting that the event was still a way off. The opening ceremony for the games is now 205 days away.

Asked Tuesday whether the U.S. supports the European stance, Price did so again.

“What is true is that we are closely consulting with allies and partners, as well as other actors, including the business community, to identify common concerns and, ideally, to establish a common approach regarding the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games,” he said.

In the meantime, the U.S. would continue to speak out, “jointly with allies and partners,” and impose sanctions in response to rights abuses.

Price pointed as an example to an interagency advisory issued earlier Tuesday, highlighting heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, where the State Department has determined the Chinese government is perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity.

He also provided examples of U.S.-Europe “convergence” relating to concerns about Xinjiang, including at the G7, NATO and U.S.-E.U. summits last month.

China disputes claims of atrocities in Xinjiang, portraying the mass incarceration of Muslims as educational and vocational programs targeting Islamic extremism.

While the State Department has characterized the issue of the Beijing Olympics as one still subject to consultation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said on several occasions that the U.S. position is “unchanged.”

Some administration officials’ responses to questions on Beijing 2022 follow:

Feb. 3:  Jen Psaki: “We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics. We consult, of course, closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach.  But this is — there’s no discussion underway of a change in our plans from the United States at this point in time.”

Feb. 11: Ned Price: “We are consulting closely with our allies and our partners at all levels to define our common concerns and to establish our shared approach to China. I wouldn’t want to get ahead of things. We are in early 2021. We will have plenty of time to talk about 2022 as – in the ensuing months.”

Mar. 16: State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter: “The Olympics are in 2022, and that’s – we’ll deal with that when that comes up, but right now that hasn’t been at the forefront of our conversations.”

Mar. 17: Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “We’ve heard the many concerns around the world about the prospect of those Olympics, given the actions that China has taken … And we’ve heard a lot of those concerns, and we will continue to talk to other countries around the world to hear what they’re thinking. And at the appropriate time we’ll decide what to do. But for now, we’re just listening to the concerns we’ve heard expressed from many countries around the world.”

Apr. 6: Price: “Well, it is something that we certainly wish to discuss and that it is certainly something that we understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners. So this is one of the issues that is on the agenda both now and going forward, and when we have something to announce, we will be sure to do that.”

May 3: Blinken: “We’re still a ways away from the Beijing Olympics, something that we’ll look at in the months ahead.  We’ll certainly talk to other countries, to allies and partners, to get their perspective, but that’s not something we’ve focused on yet.”

May 21: Psaki, asked if President Biden agreed with Pelosi’s call for a boycott, said the administration was “quite outspoken on human rights” in its engagement with the Chinese, “but our position on the Beijing Olympics has not changed.”

See also:

State Dept: ‘Not Going to Offer Advice to US Companies From This Podium’ on Boycotting Beijing Games (Apr. 7, 2021)

Blinken: We’ll Hear What Other Countries Are Thinking Before Deciding on Beijing Olympics Boycott (Mar. 18, 2021)

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