Pelosi calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Games

Pelosi calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Games
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe, eyeing new GOP reinforcements GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics that are scheduled to take place in Beijing next year, in a protest of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

Speaking at a hearing of Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Pelosi advocated for the U.S. to withhold any official delegation from traveling to the Games but allowing for athletes to compete in Beijing in 2022.

“We cannot proceed as if nothing is wrong about the Olympics going to China. That may be a fait accompli, it may not be possible to stop that,” she said. “Here’s what I propose, and join those who are proposing, is a diplomatic boycott.”

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“Let’s honor them at home,” she added, referencing international athletes. “Let’s not honor the Chinese government by having heads of state go to China to show their support for their athletes. When they come home, let’s show them even more … respect, adulation, really, for what they’ve done.”

Pelosi warned that sending an official delegation could undercut U.S. efforts to sound the alarm about human rights abuses across the globe.

The California Democrat noted that the U.S. has recognized China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as a genocide and warned that failure to push back on Beijing's clampdown could enable further abuses.

“For heads of state to go to China in light of a genocide that is ongoing, while you’re sitting there in your seats, really begs the question, 'What moral authority do you have to speak about human rights anywhere in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide?' ” she said. “So honor your athletes at home, let’s have a diplomatic boycott if, in fact, this Olympics takes place. Silence on this issue is unacceptable.” 

Pelosi’s remarks come amid a debate over the U.S.’s participation in next year’s games, with some saying the country should not send athletes at all. 

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Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (R-Utah) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenate GOP likely to nix plan Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Manchin signals he'll be team player on spending deal MORE (D-Va.) have introduced legislation that would bar the government from spending any money to send a delegation to Beijing.

China has attracted international rebukes over its treatment of the Uyghurs, with the U.K. Parliament last month voting to declare Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region a genocide. 

China has denied that it is committing any crimes against the Uyghurs, maintaining that what critics say are reeducation and forced labor camps are workforce training programs.