Skip to main content Skip to navigation

US call to boycott China Olympics: Prof Shaun Breslin comments

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a international boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, in response to reports of human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

Professor Shaun Breslin, an expert on China from Warwick's Department of Politics and International Studies, comments:

"While the messenger can control what message they send, they cannot control the way that it will be understood and parsed by the recipient. This is intended to show to the Chinese leadership the level of global revulsion at what is going on in Xinjiang – and perhaps with the restrictions on individual freedoms more generally in China; including in Hong Kong – this is likely to be perceived differently in Beijing. Or at least, the message will be explained as having a different meaning to the Chinese people. This will be used as further evidence that the US (and its allies) do not want to accommodate China’s rise into the existing international order, and are trying to find ways of checking China’s rise. The Chinese government repeatedly argues that China is being 'smeared' or 'slandered' by the west and this is likely to be the response this time too.

Prof Shaun Breslin

"This is, of course, not the first time that the Olympics has become an international relations issue for China. There was a feeling that the country had been slighted in 1993 when the millennial Olympic Games was awarded to Sydney despite a widespread expectation (and not just in China) that Beijing would win, and this would be a validation of China’s re-acceptance into the international community. And when they did win and host the games (in 2008), this was used to showcase a new self confident and increasingly powerful China to the world; a sort of coming out party for China as a putative great power."

19 May 2021

For interviews, contact:

Luke Walton,

International Press Manager

+44 (0) 7823 362 150