Despite strained relations between the United States and China at the moment, exploring more cooperation between them will be conducive to their interests as well as to the international community, according to experts, who spoke as the White House clarified that it is not in talks with its allies over a joint boycott of the 2022 Olympics.
"Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday.
It was the second time in two months that the White House stated its position on the Olympics, scheduled in Beijing for Feb. 4 to 20, about 300 days away.
"We, of course, consult closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach, but there's no discussion underway of a change in our plans regarding the Beijing Olympics from the United States' point of view," she said on Wednesday.
Psaki's remarks helped to clarify confusion arising from a briefing by U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price the previous day.
When asked if the U.S. was talking with allies about whether to consider a joint boycott, Price said: "It is something that we certainly wish to discuss." Later on Tuesday, Price said on Twitter that "we don't have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics."
Asked if the U.S. government is going to encourage U.S. spectators to travel to China to view the Games, Psaki suggested that as the Winter Olympics are "some time away", spectators traveling may have to take the advice of medical experts.
"Certainly our hope is that we are at a point where enough people across the country, and hopefully around the world, have been vaccinated. But we will rely on health and medical experts on that particular piece," she said.
"Our position has not changed in our planned participation," she added.
Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, called for more dialogue and cooperation between the U.S. and China, when speaking with China Daily on Thursday.
"Although the Sino-U.S. relations seem to be tense at present, the two sides have left room for cooperation apart from competition, and both sides have a desire to work together," Yuan said, adding that it will be impossible to seek China's cooperation if the U.S. provokes such a boycott.
If the U.S. uses any political excuse to boycott the Games, it is "the equivalent of adopting a hostile policy" and is also "the practice of a Cold War mentality", which will not be welcomed by the international community, he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also stressed on Wednesday that politicization of sports runs counter to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of all athletes as well as the international Olympic cause.
"The international community, including the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, will not buy it," he said. "We have every confidence that with concerted efforts, we will host an extraordinary and outstanding Olympic event in Beijing in 2022."
Attacking and maligning China based on deliberate lies will "not only hurt the U.S.' reputation and interests, but also meet with the resolute opposition of the Chinese people and forceful responses from the Chinese side", Zhao said.
Susanne Lyons, chairwoman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, voiced on Wednesday its opposition to a boycott, saying such a move would "negatively impact athletes", who should not be used as "political pawns".
"I think we will continue to see a lot of discussion on the topic of boycotts, and I want to just point out again what we have said very consistently," Lyons told reporters at a virtual Tokyo 2020 Team USA Media Summit.
"We at the USOPC oppose athlete boycotts because they've been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues," Lyons said. "We do not believe that Team USA's athletes should be used as political pawns."