For the first time since 1980, the U.S. has announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China. Along with the U.K, Canada, and Australia, the U.S. refuses to send government officials to view the Olympic Games but will still send athletes to participate, marking the end of a 42-year detente.
The government boycotts are in response to the unethical actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP is responsible for brutal treatment of the Uighur, a predominately Muslim ethnic group, as described by the Biden administration as “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
A large-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities, beginning in 2014, hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims have been forced into internment camps. In these camps, women are often sterilized or forced into abortions, and women, men, and children endure extensive labor and involuntarily go against their religious practices and values. Thousands of mosques have been destroyed and children are separated from families. Despite denied claims from the CCP regarding abuse of Uighur Muslims, overwhelming proof reveals the atrocities committed in secretive internment camps claimed to be “reeducation camps.”
The violent response to peaceful political protests in Hong Kong is another factor in the mass diplomatic conflict with China. Further scrutiny of the CCP ensued after they silenced tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations against a prominent member of the Chinese Communist Party, showing the CCP's pattern of restricting the freedoms of Chinese Citizens.
Historically, boycotting the Olympics has been utilized as a political statement against conflicting nations. The last time the U.S. boycotted the Olympics was the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
However, this boycott did not incite the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan, leading some to believe that the current boycott is useless in ceasing the censorship and cruelty of the CCP. “The boycott didn’t really prove a point,” states Toby Rider, a sports history professor at California State University. “I highly doubt that this particular boycott, if it stays, will make China change its foreign and domestic policy in terms of human rights.”
China threatens the U.S. that they will “pay a price for their erroneous actions” in response to this boycott. This could involve previously displayed measures of China withdrawing from global conferences, disrupting trade, and creating sanctions.
Massive global companies have previously engaged in protest against the treatment of Uighurs, such as H&M and Nike, who stopped using cotton from Xinjiang produced through methods of forced labor. This was met with boycotts from the Chinese people, who account for a large consumer base of 1.4 million people.
With their large population and vast economic influence, creating diplomatic conflict with China is a potentially jeopardizing move. Despite this, nations and companies across the globe are determined to crack down on the CCP’s authoritative and reprehensible rule.
Guzman, Chad de. “Beijing Olympics: How a U.S. Boycott Is Splitting the World.” Time, Time, 16 Dec. 2021, https://time.com/6129154/beijing-olympics-boycott/.
Maizland, Lindsay. “The Debate Over Boycotting the 2022 Beijing Olympics.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 6 Dec. 2021, https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/debate-over-boycotting-2022-beijing-olympics.
Shesgreen, Deirdre, and Tom Schad. “Citing 'Ongoing Genocide,' Biden Announces Diplomatic Boycott of 2022 Beijing Olympics.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 6 Dec. 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/12/06/2022-winter-olympics-biden-announces-diplomatic-boycott-beijing/8837884002/.
About the Author:
Nidhi Rao is a high school sophomore and the current secretary of her class. Since childhood, Nidhi has been passionate about gaining new perspectives on political issues and hopes to inform and inspire others by writing in The Alcott Youth Magazine. Additionally, she is interested in painting, hiking, kayaking, reading, and listening to music.