Joe Biden has confirmed that the United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The move is said to be aimed at protesting China’s human rights record, including what Washington says is genocide against Muslim minorities.
When asked Thursday if a diplomatic boycott was a possibility as he sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mr. Biden said, “Something we’re considering. “
That would mean that no U.S. officials would be sent to attend the games in February.
If made, this decision would be a reproach Chinese President Xi Jinping, just a few days after the two leaders worked to ease tensions during a virtual summit, their first in-depth talks since Mr Biden took office in January.
Activists and congressmen from both parties pressured the Biden administration to diplomatically boycott the event.
It comes as the US government has accused China of committing genocide against ethnic Muslim groups in its western region of Xinjiang, which Beijing denies.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular briefing on Thursday that the United States’ consideration of a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics was motivated by concerns about human rights practices in Xinjiang province.
Ms Psaki told reporters: “There are areas that concern us: human rights violations. We have serious concerns.
“Certainly there are a series of factors when we consider what our presence would be like,” she said, while declining to provide a timeline for a decision.
“I want to give the president space to make decisions,” she said.
Sources familiar with the administration’s thinking said there was a growing consensus within the White House that it should keep US officials away from the event.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was discussing with countries around the world “how they envision participation,” but left a time frame for a decision unclear.
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