The Biden White House has announced that it will be sending diplomats to Beijing, China ahead of the 2022 Olympics as a show of support for American athletes who are participating, but those same diplomats will not actually be attending the games themselves, according to the New York Post.
The move comes after Biden had previously announced that no diplomats would be sent to attend the games, as a boycott against China’s latest human rights abuses. China responded by criticizing the initial boycott, and followed up by referring to the latest decision as a “farce.” There have been at least 18 applications from Americans for diplomatic visas to China, according to the Chinese foreign ministry; there may be as many as 40 more prior to the opening ceremonies for the games on February 4th.
The State Department and the White House National Security Council issued a joint statement further explaining the latest development, stating that they “intend to provide consular and diplomatic security services to ensure our athletes, coaches, trainers, and staff are secure and have access to the American citizen services that we provide to all U.S. citizens overseas.”
“Any visa application would be for those consular and diplomatic security personnel,” the statement continued. “It is standard to have those personnel on the ground, and those personnel do not constitute official or diplomatic representation at the Games. Our position we announced earlier this month remains our position and will not be changing: We will not have any diplomatic or official representation given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses. Any suggestion otherwise is false.”
In response, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, fired back by saying that “the US side has recently staged a farce with the goal of political manipulation and claimed that it will not send any diplomatic or official representatives to the Beijing Winter Olympics, even though it has in fact never been invited.”
“We again call on the US side to practice the Olympic spirit,” Zhao continued, “stop politicizing sport and stop making further comments or actions that would interfere with or disrupt the Beijing Winter Olympics.”
The decision to not send any diplomats to China stems from the latest clear cases of human rights abuses from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including the imprisonment and forced labor of Uighur Muslims in the aforementioned Xinjiang province. More recently, the disappearance of one of China’s famed tennis stars, Peng Shuai, after she accused former CCP official Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her.
Former President Donald Trump agreed with Biden’s decision to not send diplomats, saying in a recent interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that doing so was a better move than former President Jimmy Carter’s decision to outright cancel participation by athletes in order to boycott the Soviet Union ahead of the 1980 Summer Olympics.
“I watched Jimmy Carter do it, and it was terrible,” President Trump said. “[It] hurts the athletes. There are much more powerful things we can do that — much, much more powerful things.”