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Boycotting Chinese Winter Olympics: From double standard to Biden’s desperate bid to score foreign policy achievements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The US and its allies have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Illustration by Press TV)

By Mohammad Mahdi Abbasi

With less than two months until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia have announced that they will not send any diplomatic representative to the event. The main pretext cited for the “diplomatic boycott” has been human rights violations by the Chinese government, especially in the case of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Of course, the US government, according to the statements of American officials, does not intend to completely boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics and has decided that a diplomatic boycott will fit the bill. In this regard, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a news conference: “The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home, [but] we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games … As the president has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”

The decision, despite facing international opposition, has not been so much to the liking of the Biden administration’s opponents, because many senior Republican figures have long called for a complete boycott of the event. They regard the diplomatic boycott as a mere symbolic move by the administration. In this regard, Mike Pompeo, the former US secretary of state, wrote on his Twitter page: “For 9 months, I’ve called to fully #BoycottBeijingOlympics. We absolutely must boycott the games and send a clear message: the US does not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing human rights violations, including genocide.”

Now, regardless of all its domestic political disputes, the US needs to say why it did not boycott the Beijing Summer Olympics of 2008 as well. Even back then, weren’t the American officials and media outlets also claiming there were human rights violations and lack of freedom of expression in China? The answer to this question may lie in the current political and economic power of China, a country which, according to Bloomberg, overtook the US to grab the top spot of world income and, according to another report, is expected to surpass the US to become the world’s largest economy by 2028. These days, the Chinese have also become a major threat to the Americans militarily. And in such circumstances, the US government will use every opportunity to try to contain and harm China, which poses a threat to its global leadership, even at the cost of turning to its old habit of resorting to double standards.

Also, compared to the time of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the American citizens view China differently. They now see China as a major threat to the United States around the world. According to a recent poll by an American institute, 52% of Americans have named China as the biggest threat to their country in the world. The figure has grown 15 percent compared to last year and 30 percent compared to three years ago, clearly reflecting a change in the American people’s view in recent years. Therefore, the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the pledge to “protect” Taiwan if China “invaded it”, and similar actions are good opportunities for the Biden administration, which frames them as foreign policy achievements while trying to regain public trust, a trust that was completely damaged in the aftermath of the catastrophic withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan, placing the current US administration in dire need of restoring it.

In the end, the Beijing Winter Olympics will kick off with the maximum attendance of political representatives from many countries in February. In recent weeks, there has been even speculation about the possibility of certain countries’ high-ranking officials, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, attending the opening ceremony. In the meantime, the US and some of its allies are trying to delegitimize the Beijing Olympics through such “diplomatic boycotts.” Such attempts may serve the United States’ domestic purposes and somewhat help restore Biden’s reputation within the country, but the American rulers’ application of double standards, especially on issues such as human rights, have long been laid bare before the whole world.


Mohammad Mahdi Abbasi is an Iranian researcher focusing on American affairs.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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