(Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to invite his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year, CNBC reported https://cnb.cx/3HcexCI on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Xi is likely to extend his personal invitation to Biden when the two leaders meet during a virtual summit, expected to be held next week, according to the report.
The White House National Security Council and China’s embassy in Washington did not respond to Reuters’ questions on the matter.
Activists and some members of Congress have been pressing the Biden administration to diplomatically boycott the event, given the U.S. government’s determination that Chinese officials are carrying out a genocide against Muslim ethnic groups in its western Xinjiang region.
China vehemently deny abuses.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators in October proposed an amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would prohibit the State Department from spending federal funds to “support or facilitate” the attendance of U.S. government employees at the Games.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a diplomatic boycott.
So far the White House has been muted on how it would handle the Beijing Games. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated on Wednesday that the United States was in “active conversation” with allies and partners on how to approach the Games.
Still, the extent of access for diplomatic delegations remains unclear due to China’s strict COVID-19 protocols. Amid the pandemic, Biden didn’t attend close ally Japan’s Summer Games in July.
And U.S. presidents have not to traveled to host countries for recent Winter Olympics. Biden went as vice president to the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and Vice President Mike Pence went to South Korea’s Winter Games in 2018, both strong U.S. allies.
A U.S. deputy secretary of state went to Russia’s Winter Games in 2014, and then-first lady Laura Bush attended the 2006 Games in Italy.
Sources told Reuters on Thursday that Biden and Xi are expected to hold their virtual summit on Monday.
(Reporting Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Toby Chopra and Steve Orlofsky)