Ned Price said that the United States "wish to discuss" a coordinated boycott of Beijing 2022 with its allies ©Getty Images

A boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics is "something that we wish to discuss", a spokesperson for the American State Department has said.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the United States Government's department for foreign policy and international relations, made the remark as tensions between China and many Western countries continue to rise.

Price added that "a coordinated approach" between the US and its allies would be preferable, and that it was in talks with partners over what steps to take.

The US, European Union, Canada and United Kingdom all imposed sanctions on China last month in response to alleged abuses of the human rights of the Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

China has been accused of crimes including using forced Uyghur labour, detaining many thousands in internment camps, forced sterilisations and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage.

Beijing claims the camps are training centres designed to help stamp out Islamist extremism and separatism, but human rights groups have documented what they say amounts to a genocide taking place in Xinjiang.

China's record on human rights - including in Tibet and Hong Kong - is coming under increasing scrutiny as the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics near, and there have been calls both for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to strip China of hosting rights for the Games and for other countries to boycott them.

Government officials have largely downplayed or sidestepped questions on boycotting the next Winter Olympics, so Price's comments are significant, although he was also at pains to point out that "these Games remain some time away" and refused to put a timeframe on when a decision could be made on whether or not to skip Beijing 2022.

Price also appeared to walk back the comments somewhat when he later tweeted that "we don’t have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics".

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has consistently said it will not boycott the Games.

The US has only boycotted one Olympics before, Moscow 1980, and USOPC President Susanne Lyons said last month that "boycotts have not been effective in the past, particularly in 1980".

"Those boycotts only hurt athletes who have trained their entire lives for this opportunity to represent their country," added Lyons.

IOC President Thomas Bach is another believer that boycotts do not work and has repeatedly stressed the need for unity.

Speaking after the IOC Session last month, Bach insisted the organisation was not a "super-world Government" that can solve global issues, as a group of human rights activists held an "Alternative Olympic Session" to highlight their concerns with Beijing's hosting of the Games.

Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, has suggested before that a boycott of Beijing 2022 could be possible for politicians and dignitaries.

Beijing is set to become the first city to stage the Summer and Winter Olympics when the Games open on February 4 next year - less than six months after the conclusion of Tokyo 2020.

Competitions are due to be staged in three main clusters - Beijing itself, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.