Republican lawmakers took aim at President Biden for his diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, arguing keeping U.S. officials from attending did not go far enough as they called for removing the games from China.
The Biden administration itself has accused the communist nation of genocide.
“While I have called for the United States and other nations to impose a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, this is the bare minimum, and President Biden should do more to hold accountable the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said in a statement Monday.
Hagerty argued that the 2022 games should be moved out of China completely, citing the recent disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
“What President Biden should do is insist that the International Olympic Committee move the Olympics from Beijing. The United States should lead the world in protecting not only our own athletes, but all athletes from the malign behavior of the Chinese Communist Party as evidenced by the recent disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai,” Hagerty said.
Hagerty’s comments come after the White House confirmed Monday that the U.S. will stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying that American athletes “have our full support,” but “we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”
“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” Psaki said during a press briefing Monday.
But Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., ridiculed the Biden move, echoing Hagerty’s claim that the diplomatic boycott did not go far enough.
“A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke,” Hawley told the Daily Caller Monday. “China doesn’t care if Biden and his team show up. They want our athletes.”
Hawley and Hagerty were joined by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who called Biden’s move the “bare minimum.”
“President Biden had the chance to actually stand up to Beijing’s genocide and human rights abuses, but again, he has chosen appeasement and weakness over strength and resolve,” Scott said in a statement Monday. “Time and time again, Biden does the bare minimum when it comes to dealing with China and it’s absolutely unacceptable.”
But not all Republicans were critical of the move, with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joining Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., cheered Biden’s decision.
“We applaud the President’s decision to withhold any diplomatic presence from the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Beijing,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement Monday. “America must not lend its credibility to the Chinese Communist Party, which represses ethnic and religious minorities—committing genocide against its Uyghur citizens, oppressing the people of Hong Kong, and subjugating the people of Tibet.”
Biden’s move was also praised by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who said he hoped other countries would follow the president’s example.
“The Chinese treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang Province and its crackdown on free speech and democracy in Hong Kong even as it plans to host a sporting celebration of global unity and diversity has made clear that the country does not deserve the full diplomatic honors of a normal host nation,” Coons said in a statement Monday.
But Biden also faced criticism within his own party, with Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, saying the diplomatic boycott “does not go far enough.”
“China has been a bad actor and everyone knows it — from continuing to stonewall on the WHO investigation of COVID-19 origins to perpetrating genocide and committing mass humans rights violations,’” Ryan, who is a candidate for Senate in next year’s election, said in a statement Monday.
“I’m glad to see the Biden Administration take steps to hold China accountable, but this diplomatic boycott does not go far enough.”