US senators propose adding boycott of China’s Winter Olympics to defense law – Community News
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US senators propose adding boycott of China’s Winter Olympics to defense law

Participants bring the Olympic flame from a cauldron during the ceremony to welcome the flame for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of US senators on Thursday proposed an amendment to an annual defense policy law that would impose a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China — less than 100 days away — amid accusations of human rights abuses by Beijing.

The amendment, led by Republican Senator Mitt Romney, mirrors language incorporated into sweeping China-related legislation passed by the Senate in June, and would prohibit the Secretary of State from spending federal funds to support the presence of U.S. government officials at the Games.

But with the Olympics set to kick off in February, the fate of that measure is in limbo. As Congress engages in President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, the bill passed by the Senate has stalled in the House of Representatives.

The new amendment, if passed, would add the diplomatic boycott provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2022, a defense law that Congress has passed every year since 1961.

The amendment calls for an “end to the Chinese Communist Party’s continued human rights abuses, including the Uyghur genocide,” but allows US funding for athletes, as well as for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its employees and contractors.

Such a boycott “will hurt the Chinese Communist Party, rather than punish our American athletes,” Romney said in a statement to Reuters.

The amendment is supported in part by Democrats Tim Kaine and Ed Markey, and Republican Todd Young. All four senators are members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Members of Congress have vocally demanded an Olympic boycott or change of location, and have lashed out at businesses, arguing that their silence over what the State Department deems a genocide of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China has caused the Chinese government encouraged. read more

Chinese officials strongly deny abuses.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a diplomatic boycott.

The White House, which is planning a virtual meeting between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping this year, has largely avoided the controversy thus far and hoped to discuss a concerted approach with allies.

Countries often send official delegations to participate in Olympic opening ceremonies. First lady Jill Biden led a delegation to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July, offering support to a key ally despite concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. read more

However, the degree of access for diplomatic delegations to the Games remains unclear. Chinese officials have said spectators from abroad will not be allowed in due to COVID. read more

Reporting by Michael Martina and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.