Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today applauded President Joseph R. Biden for implementing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics given the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. USCIRF has publicly expressed concerns over the Beijing Olympics in its 2020 and 2021 Annual Reports and recommended that the United States not send government officials to the games if the Chinese government’s crackdown on religious freedom continues.
“We commend President Biden for implementing the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic games and demonstrating the United States’ unwavering commitment to religious freedom,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Nury Turkel. “The Chinese government’s systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom and other human rights of Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and many others betray the Olympic spirit. In fact, a genocidal regime should not have been granted the privilege to host the Olympics in the first place.”
The United States and international partners have imposed targeted sanctions against Chinese officials complicit in religious freedom abuses. In March 2021, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union imposed sanctions against Chinese officials for committing egregious religious freedom violations against Uyghur and other Muslims. In July 2020, the U.S. government also sanctioned senior Chinese government officials, including Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, responsible for egregious religious freedom violations against Uyghur and other Muslims in Xinjiang.
“China is one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world,” said USCIRF Commissioner James W. Carr. “By implementing a diplomatic boycott, the United States and like-minded countries send a strong and unequivocal message to the Chinese government: the international community condemns and does not tolerate its egregious policies that actively persecute religious minorities. USCIRF urges the Chinese government to abide by the international standards it has signed and immediately cease the persecution of vulnerable religious groups.”
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the U.S. government redesignate China as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. In November 2021, the U.S. Department of State redesignated China as a CPC. In addition to recommending that the U.S. government implement a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, USCIRF urged the U.S. government to fully enforce existing U.S. laws by imposing targeted financial and visa sanctions on Chinese government agencies and officials for severe violations of religious freedom, and to work with like-minded countries to hold China accountable.