The US is talking to allies about boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics over genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Beijing
A Chinese flag flutters in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest by activists of the International Tibet Network against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Februay 3, 2021 in Lausanne.

  • The US and its allies are discussing a possible boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
  • “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” the State Department said on Tuesday.
  • China is facing growing backlash over what’s widely considered to be genocide against the Uyghurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, the US State Department said Tuesday.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners.”

“This is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward,” Price added, making clear that a final decision has not been made.

In a later statement to Yahoo Sports, an unnamed State Department official stressed that no such talks have yet taken place. “We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” the official said.

The US government has been ramping up criticism of and pressure on the Chinese government over human rights violations, which led to a public spat between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat in Alaska last month.

The Biden administration in late March slapped new sanctions on Chinese officials over what the Treasury Department described as serious human-rights abuse against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The EU, the UK, and Canada – in coordination with the US – have also hit China with sanctions over its treatment of the Uyghurs.

Human rights groups say the Chinese government has forced over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in the Xinjiang region, though Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations.

Blinken has said what’s happening to the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, while calling on China to release “all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities.”

There have been growing calls for countries and companies to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Human rights lawyer Djaouida Siaci told Axios that a boycott could open the door for the International Criminal Court to begin an investigation into the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in a New York Times op-ed last month said the US should engage in a diplomatic and economic boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.

“Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022,” Romney said.

“The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney added. “American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.”

The last time the US boycotted the Olympics was during the 1980 summer games in Moscow.

The US Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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China reportedly told H&M to ‘bolster its awareness of the national territory’ after citing issues with the retailer’s ‘problematic’ maps

china h&m
A woman walks by an H&M clothing store at a shopping area on March 30, 2021 in Beijing, China.

  • China told H&M to correct what it says is inaccurate mapping on the retailer’s website.
  • H&M has before been criticized by China for listing Hong Kong as a country.
  • Many in China have boycotted H&M recently over year-old comments about accusations of forced labor in the country.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chinese officials told H&M to fix its mapping system on its website and to “bolster its awareness of national territory,” per a Friday report from the Wall Street Journal.

Regulators reportedly took issue with what some online Chinese users called “problematic Chinese maps” on H&M’s website.

The country’s internet regulator said that H&M has taken steps to correct the map inaccuracies, according to the report. H&M was directed by the regulator to study Chinese laws and “really ensure the standardized use of the Chinese map,” the Journal reports.

H&M declined Insider’s request for comment.

The retailer has drawn criticism from China in the past for labeling Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet as countries, as well as labeling Taiwan as a country on the retailer’s native Taiwan website, the Journal notes.

The government in Beijing considers Taiwan a province of China, not a country on its own, and has increased its military as its attitude toward Taiwan has grown increasingly harsh.

The Swedish retailer became enthralled in controversy following the resurfacing of months-old comments about “forced labor” of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Reports have found the Uighur minority community to be under persecution, through concentration camps and forced sterilization. China has maintained its position that the camps are “reeducation centers” designed to quell religious extremism and terrorist threats, not facilities designed to extinguish Uighur culture.

The comments were recirculated online last week after some governments, including the US, imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over allegations of human-rights violations. H&M’s criticism of forced labor in the country drew ire from Chinese consumers and companies, who boycotted the brand. Shortly after, H&M appeared to be scrubbed from the internet in China, with products missing from popular shopping sites and the location of H&M’s 500 stores removed from map services.

H&M has since responded to the backlash, saying it is “dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China.”

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H&M pledges its ‘long-term commitment’ to China after the retailer’s web presence was scrubbed in the country

china h&M
A man walks by an H&M clothing store at a shopping area on March 30, 2021 in Beijing, China.

  • H&M said it is “dedicated to regaining the trust” of Chinese citizens after being scrubbed online.
  • H&M last year criticized China over forced labor accusations, and many citizens boycotted the brand.
  • H&M items and stores were missing from China’s shopping sites and its online map services.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

H&M on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to China following backlash over comments the company made last year about forced labor accusations in the country.

In a blog post, the Swedish retailer said it is “dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China. By working together with stakeholders and partners, we believe we can take steps in our joint efforts to develop the fashion industry, as well as serve our customers and act in a respectful way.”

H&M called China a “very important market” and said its “long-term commitment to the country remains strong.”

Earlier this week, H&M’s online presence appeared to be scrubbed in China after the company’s comments criticizing China’s forced labor resurfaced online. The criticism recirculated on the social media platform Weibo following sanctions imposed by the US, the European Union, Britain, and Canada on Chinese officials over allegations of human-rights violations.

In the statement it made last year, H&M said it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor.” The company at the time announced it would stop sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang region and would sever ties with a Chinese yarn company that had been accused of forcing labor upon the Uighur Muslim community.

H&M made the change after a report surfaced that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs were being forced into labor. More accounts of Uyghur persecution have since emerged, with officials accused of confining Uyghurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang and forcibly sterilizing Uyghur women. China has denied that characterization of the camps and said they’re actually “reeducation centers,” not facilities designed to stamp out Uyghur culture.

H&M is joined by other big-name brands, including Burberry and Nike, in publicly distancing itself from Xinjiang-sourced cotton. In response to the retailers’ stance against China, Chinese companies and consumers have boycotted the brands over their criticism of the government. Tencent, for example, said it was removing costumes that were designed by Burberry and worn by characters in one of the company’s popular games.

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