US applies for visas for 18 officials to attend Beijing Winter Olympics amid diplomatic boycott
The U.S. government is apparently backpedaling on its earlier pronouncement that it will be implementing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
A difference in interpretation: Washington allegedly submitted applications for three-month Chinese visas for 18 American officials who will provide “security support operations,” reported South China Morning Post.
The applications are seemingly intended for mostly mid to lower-ranking officials: one from the Pentagon and 15 from the U.S. State Department.
Requests for 40 more visas for officials are reportedly planned to be submitted in the next few months.
Washington does not consider these officials as part of the boycott since they will be at the Winter Olympics for “security and medical support.”
It remains uncertain whether the request for the U.S. officials’ visas will be granted since the governments of China and the U.S. “[have] different definitions of a diplomatic boycott,” an unidentified source told Morning Post.
About the boycott: President Biden’s administration announced on Dec. 6 that it would not send officials to the Winter Olympics, claiming its main reason for the boycott to be China’s alleged genocide against the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region, as NextShark previously reported.
“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,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was quoted as saying.
In response to the announcement, China’s embassy in Washington, D.C., accused the Biden administration of “political manipulation,” pointing out that it has not sent a Winter Olympics invitation to U.S. officials.
On Thursday, Biden signed a new law that prohibits imports from China’s Xinjiang region due to the alleged forced labor imposed upon the Uyghur people, reported Reuters.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month after a compromise was reached between bicameral versions.
According to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the official U.S. delegation headed for Beijing is composed of 230 athletes for the Winter Olympics and 65 athletes for the Winter Paralympics.