Biden Admin Won't Tell Companies What to Do Over China Olympics Boycott

The Biden administration will not push companies to drop sponsorship of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing or speak out against China's human rights record, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday.

Raimondo's remarks came just days after the Biden Administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games due to human rights concerns, prompting other nations, including Canada, Australia, the U.K., and Lithuania, to follow suit.

"What individual companies do is entirely up to them. We're not going to pressure them one way or another," Raimondo told an editorial board with Bloomberg reporters and editors on Thursday.

"So if a company decides—as many have—that they want to make a statement against human rights abuses, then that would be great. But we're not going to be pushing anyone to make that decision," she added.

On Tuesday, Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida called on Airbnb to delist some of its rental properties in China's northwestern Xinjiang region owned by a Chinese paramilitary force accused of aiding the Chinese regime's genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

"[B]y maintaining these listings, Airbnb is complicit in enriching an organization facilitating horrific human rights abuse and risks violating U.S. sanction law that prohibits such transactions from occurring," Rubio said in his letter to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

"It is not a stretch to say that Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Intel, NBC, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Samsung, and Visa are now ignoring an ongoing genocide in the blind pursuit of profits," Rubio said in another letter released Wednesday, calling on the companies to drop their sponsorships unless the Olympic Games are relocated elsewhere.

The games are scheduled to begin on February 4 and run through February 20.

Elsewhere, Beijing warned that countries shunning the upcoming Winter Olympics will "pay a price."

"The U.S., Australia, U.K. and Canada's use of the Olympics for political manipulation is unpopular and self-isolating," the spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, said on Thursday.

"They will inevitably pay a price for their wrongdoing," he added. "China never invited the relevant countries in the first place. The Beijing Winter Olympics will be a success regardless of whether their officials come or not."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Monday that the U.S. will not send a diplomatic delegation to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, citing the Chinese regime's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses."

A diplomatic boycott means dignitaries will not be sent to Beijing Winter Olympic Games, but American athletes would still be allowed to compete.

Gina Raimondo speaks in Washington, DC.
Gina Raimondo speaks onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. Raimondo said on Thursday that the Biden administration won’t push companies to drop their sponsorship of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing over China's human rights record. Paul Morigi//Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc