CNN anchor Jake Tapper challenged U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a Sunday morning interview, asking whether a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics would be taken seriously if the United States was failing to act on human rights abuses elsewhere.
The ambassador joined Tapper for Sunday’s broadcast of “State of the Union,” and she argued that the Biden Administration had made its position on human rights abuses clear, regardless of where they were occurring.
“You’ve accused the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uyghurs. At the opening ceremonies a Uyghur athlete helped light the Olympic cauldron. How did you see that move?” Tapper asked, suggesting the move was essentially Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a “middle finger” to the rest of the world.
“As you’ve noted, Jake, we’ve made our situation very clear on the situation in China,” Thomas-Greenfield replied. “This is not business as usual. We know that a genocide has been committed there. We’ve called them out on it. The president has called them out on it. We’ve made clear that crimes against humanity are being committed in China.”
She went on to say that the Biden Administration planned to keep concerns about human rights abuses in China at the forefront, adding, “We have to ensure that we continue to raise these concerns that are occurring in China at the moment.”
“How did you interpret the fact that one of the two athletes that lit the torch was from, at least according to the Chinese government, the Uyghur community?” Tapper asked again.
“Well, this is an effort by the Chinese to distract us from the real issue here at hand, that Uyghurs are being tortured, and Uyghurs are the victims of human rights violations by the Chinese, and we have to keep that front and center,” Thomas-Greenfield replied.
UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on China picking a Uyghur athlete to light the Olympic flame: "This is an effort by the Chinese to distract us from the real issue here at hand, that Uyghurs are being tortured." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/lkrB0U0hXd
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 6, 2022
Tapper then pivoted to other parts of the world, asking whether or not the United States’ decision to enact a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics would really be seen as a serious move as long as the Biden Administration was still providing maintenance for Saudi F-15s that were being used to bomb civilian populations in Yemen.
“Are you concerned at all that the rest of the world might look at the position that the Biden Administration is taking when it comes to the diplomatic boycott of the Olympics and think that the moral protest can’t be taken as seriously as it should given that the Biden Administration has been less vocal about human rights violations elsewhere?” he asked.
“Jake, our commitment to human rights are unquestioned,” Thomas-Greenfield said, noting that the United States had rejoined the Human Rights Commission “on day one.”
“Human rights are front and center in our foreign policy. We don’t play down human rights violations anywhere in the world including in Yemen,” she continued. “I’ve had a number of meetings in the security council where we’ve raised our concerns about human rights violations being committed by all sides.”
“How seriously can that be taken given that a Saudi pilot might drop a bomb from an F-15 in Yemen killing innocent civilians and then land the plane and there is the U.S. Government there to help them provide maintenance on that very plane?” Tapper pressed again.
“We call out those efforts. Let me be clear, there are human rights violations being committed in Yemen on all sides. We are dealing with a force there, the Houthis who have not taken into account any efforts to protect the rights of people who are under their own protections supposedly,” she replied. “So, again, this is a situation where we’re working constantly to address any issues related to civilian injuries and violations being committed of human rights of everyone in that country.”