US seeks 'common approach' on possible China Olympics boycott

Republicans are calling for an outright boycott of the Beijing Games over alleged human rights violation by the Chinese government.
Republicans are calling for an outright boycott of the Beijing Games over alleged human rights violation by the Chinese government.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Washington reiterated its desire on Monday (June 7) to forge a "common approach" with allies over a possible boycott of next year's Beijing Winter Olympics, as called for by growing numbers of United States lawmakers.

"With regard to the Olympics, we're consulting very closely with allies and partners to look at the common concerns that we have, and ideally to establish a common approach," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a congressional hearing in Washington.

There will be "more on that in the weeks to come", he added.

President Joe Biden's administration has declined for months to present its position on a possible boycott.

Mr Blinken said a united front with allied nations would be "much more effective than doing something on our own".

Republicans are calling for an outright boycott of the Beijing Games over alleged human rights violation by the Chinese government, in particular its repression of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region - treatment that has been described by Washington as a "genocide" despite Beijing's protests.

Members of Mr Biden's Democratic Party have also begun to speak out against China's actions.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a "diplomatic boycott" of the Winter Olympics because of China's human rights violations.

"Let's not honour the Chinese government by having heads of state go to China," she said.

Lawmakers from both major US political parties have crafted legislation that would punish companies that agree to sponsor the Beijing Olympics.

Another bipartisan measure introduced on Monday called for the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Games "unless the Chinese government ends its ongoing crimes against the Uighur people".