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White House is expected to announce soon that the United States will organize a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest human rights violations

American athletes were still competing under such a boycott, a move President Joe Biden said he was considering last month.

Now Biden has made up his mind to go ahead with the boycott, which means the president won’t send American dignitaries to attend the games, according to two people familiar with the administration’s deliberations who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized. to speak before the official announcement. It was not clear when the decision would be announced.

Biden will host a White House Democracy Summit this week, a virtual gathering of leaders and civil society experts from more than 100 countries to take place on Thursday and Friday. The administration said Biden intended to use the summons “to announce individual and collective commitments, reforms and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.” .

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, DN.J., called such a diplomatic boycott “a necessary step to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights in the face of unacceptable abuses by the Chinese government.” .

He called on “other allies and partners who share our values ​​to join the United States in this diplomatic boycott.”

The White House National Security Council spokesman gave no public update on Monday on Biden’s decision on the diplomatic boycott. CNN was the first to report that an announcement was expected this week.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused US politicians of demagoguery over not sending dignitaries to attend events that China hopes will enhance its economic development and its technological prowess.

Speaking to reporters at a daily briefing, Zhao said such a move would be an “outright political provocation,” but gave no details on how China might retaliate.

Human rights activists and lawmakers in the United States who support a boycott say it is a necessary step. They cite China’s poor human rights record as justification, claiming that China is using gambling to whitewash its mistreatment of civil rights activists, political dissidents and ethnic minorities.

“Uninvited, US politicians continue to tout the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is purely wishful thinking and demagoguery,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing. . “If the US side is determined to go its own way, China will take strong countermeasures.”

Sending high-level delegations to each Olympic Games has a long tradition in the United States and other leading countries. Then-President George W. Bush attended the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. First Lady Jill Biden led the US contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and Second Mister Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympics.

The possibility of a diplomatic boycott comes as the United States attempts to stabilize turbulent relations with Beijing, even as it maintains a firm approach to trade and disputes over China’s actions in Taiwan, China’s rights. man, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

Beijing has organized a firm response to all US criticism, denouncing it as interference in its internal affairs and imposing visa bans on US politicians it considers anti-Chinese.

It was not clear who the United States could have sent Beijing for the games, and Zhao’s comments seemed to indicate that China had not issued any invitations.

Australia, whose ties with China have collapsed over a series of disputes, also raised the possibility of a diplomatic boycott.

ABC News

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