The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly plans to send as many as “46 officials, most of whom work for the [U.S.] Department of State,” to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4 despite previously claiming to exercise a “boycott” of the Games over China’s human rights abuses, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said on Wednesday.
“[The] list of 18 American officials seeking visas for the Beijing-hosted Winter Games has expanded to 46, which will be approved,” the newspaper claimed on January 19, citing an anonymous Chinese diplomatic source.
“Washington insists its boycott stands, describing its delegation as consular support,” the SCMP relayed.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place in Beijing, China’s national capital, from February 4 to February 20. The governments of the U.S., Britain, Canada, and Australia announced so-called “diplomatic boycotts” of the Games in December 2021 to protest the human rights abuses of China’s ruling Communist Party in Xinjiang, which is China’s westernmost region, bordering Central Asia. The Communist Party has systematically detained an estimated 1 to 3 million ethnic Uyghurs in state-run “political education” concentration camps since about 2017. The facilities also detain other Central Asian ethnic groups such as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people who, like the Uyghurs, largely practice Sunni Islam and speak Turkic languages.
Chinese politician Liu Xiaoming, who was Beijing’s longest-serving ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2021, revealed on December 6, 2021, that China did not invite U.S. government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“The Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation,” the recently retired Chinese ambassador wrote in a Twitter statement.
“US politicians keep hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games. This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation,” Liu wrote.
No evidence suggests that the Chinese Communist Party will reject the diplomats Biden is sending despite the so-called “diplomatic boycott,” however.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed the Australian government’s claim on December 8, 2021, that it would not send any officials to the Games .
“China hasn’t invited any Australian government official to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin told Xinhua, China’s official state-run press agency.
“In fact, no one would care whether they come or not, and Australian politicians’ political stunt for selfish gains has no impact whatsoever on the Olympics to be successfully held by Beijing,” he added.
Biden’s administration insisted as recently as January 18 that it would continue with plans to diplomatically boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“We have made our position clear. We will not a send a diplomatic representation to China to represent the United States at the Games,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told the Washington Post.