The Winter Olympics may not be the right stage to protest China’s human rights abuses, after all.
The State Department denied Tuesday night any consideration of a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, scheduled to begin Feb. 4.
“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official wrote in an emailed statement to CNBC.
It was a quick shoot-down of a colleague’s comments earlier in the day.
Department spokesman Ned Price had said a boycott was a possibility but later clarified in an email that he was referring to a coordinated U.S. approach rather than specifically discussing a joint boycott.
Any strategy for pushback against China would come from an overall plan from President Joe Biden’s administration. There is nothing close to unanimous agreement on a boycott.
In a CNBC story, a former senior Treasury official indicated a boycott could be perceived as a “Cold War statement” from the United States.
“It’s better to go there and dominate,” the official, who requested anonymity, told CNBC.
Biden, who spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping in February, has said his approach would be different from President Trump’s — he would work more closely with allies on pushback against Beijing.
“We will confront China’s economic abuses,” Biden said in a State Department speech, describing Beijing as America’s “most serious competitor.”
“But we’re also ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so. We’ll compete … by building back better at home and working with our allies and partners.”
Beijing has denied U.S. charges that it has committed genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim population in northwest China though credible reports continue to say otherwise.