Former Vice President Mike Pence called on President Biden to demand the 2022 Olympics be moved out of Beijing unless China offers transparency on the origins of COVID-19 and ends human rights abuses against the county’s Muslim minority populations in Xinjiang.
The former vice president made the remarks at The Heritage Foundation on Wednesday for the conservative think tank’s annual B.C. Lee Lecture on international affairs.
“President Biden should make a clear and unequivocal demand that the 2022 Winter Olympics be moved from Beijing unless China comes clean on the origins of COVID-19 and immediately ends the persecution of the Uyghur people,” Pence said during his speech. “The Olympics should only take place in countries that respect fundamental human rights and the well-being of mankind.”
The 2022 Olympics are set to start in Beijing on Friday, Feb. 4.
Pence also suggested the Biden administration ban future public or private funding for science labs in China; bring prescription drug manufacturing back to the U.S.; end farm subsidies for land owned by foreign nations; increase the number of Chinese companies barred from American investment; negotiate a trade agreement with Taiwan; stand with Hong Kong and its pro-democracy protests; maintain “American military superiority”; ban the Chinese government-funded Confucious Institute, which has programs in U.S. colleges; and more.
“In many respects, Communist China poses a greater threat to the United States than the Soviet Union ever did throughout the Cold War,” the former vice president said. “Today America is forced to confront China on two fronts: one against an authoritarian system and military bent on regional domination, and the other against powerful business interests and celebrities in our own country who are openly aiding and abetting the communist regime.”
Pence expressed multiple times that the president has been weak on China-related policy, especially in the wake of COVID-19, with a number of government and science experts suggesting a link between the origins of the virus and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which had received a federal grant from the U.S. for gain-of-function research before the outbreak.
U.S.-China tensions escalated under the Trump administration due to a years-long trade war between the two countries amid U.S. accusations of intellectual property theft, cyberattacks, fentanyl exports to the U.S. and other crimes; criticism related to the coronavirus pandemic; and China’s human rights record with regard to Muslim minority populations in its northeast region and Hong Kong.
Trump imposed strict sanctions on China and blacklisted dozens of Chinese companies accused of facilitating human rights abuses against the country’s Uyghur population.
Biden has expressed the importance of maintaining a tough stance against China, and his administration has continued to blacklist Chinese companies for being complicit in the Chinese government’s efforts to spy on Uyghurs, though some critics have argued that the president is not taking a strong enough stance.