China threatens the US with retaliation over diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics

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The Biden administration stated Monday it will not ship an official United States delegation to the Beijing Winter Video games as an announcement towards China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes towards humanity in Xinjiang.” US athletes will nonetheless be allowed to compete within the Video games.

Previous to the official announcement, Beijing warned it will take “resolute countermeasures” towards Washington if the diplomatic boycott went forward.

“US politicians maintain hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ with out even being invited to the Video games. This wishful considering and pure grandstanding is aimed toward political manipulation,” Chinese language Overseas Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated at a information convention Monday native time.

Zhao known as the boycott “a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic constitution” and “a critical insult to 1.four billion Chinese language individuals.”

Speed skaters attend a training session for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on December 3, 2021 in Beijing.

“The US ought to cease politicizing sports activities and hyping up the so-called ‘diplomatic boycott’ in order to not have an effect on China-US dialogue and cooperation in vital areas,” he stated.

Relations between the 2 superpowers had not too long ago begun to enhance, following final month’s digital summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese language counterpart Xi Jinping.

Whereas the assembly yielded no vital breakthroughs, it allowed for a return to a extra constructive, secure relationship, following a close to whole breakdown throughout the closing yr of the Trump administration and continued hostility into the Biden administration.

Beijing has provided no clue as to what countermeasures it’s contemplating, however the potential for additional retaliation now threatens to as soon as once more derail bilateral relations.

In comparison with the offended response of the Chinese language Overseas Ministry, some Chinese language diplomats and state media staff have provided a extra nonchalant tackle Twitter — which is blocked in China — stressing US politicians had not but been invited to the Video games.

“Politicians calling for boycott #2022BeijingOlympics are doing so for their very own political pursuits and posturing. Actually, nobody would care about whether or not these individuals come or not, and it has no influence by any means on the #Beijing2022 to be efficiently held,” tweeted Liu Pengyu, spokesperson of the Chinese language Embassy within the US.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the nationalist tabloid World Instances, additionally weighed in.

“Why the fuss? If US officers do not come, let it’s. China did not invite them anyway.” he tweeted. “Solely tremendous narcissistic individuals will regard their absence as a strong boycott. Most of these US govt officers are shut contacts of the Covid-19 sufferers in line with China’s commonplace, furthermore choosy and pretentious. You’re the people who Beijing residents least need to see.”
Why boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics could backfire

Whereas Beijing won’t be too involved in regards to the absence of American politicians, it may flip into an even bigger headache if the US transfer is joined by extra international locations. Beforehand, the UK, Canada and Australia have all stated they had been contemplating a diplomatic boycott.

Activists have lengthy known as for a boycott of the Beijing Video games in protest of China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, and its political crackdown on Hong Kong. Over the previous month, Beijing’s silencing of Chinese language tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations towards a former Chinese language chief has additional amplified such calls.

The US diplomatic boycott has been welcomed by rights teams. Human Rights Watch known as it a “essential step towards difficult the Chinese language authorities’s crimes towards humanity concentrating on Uyghurs and different Turkic communities.”

“However this should not be the one motion. The US ought to now redouble efforts with like-minded governments to research and map out pathways to accountability for these chargeable for these crimes and justice for the survivors,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, stated in an announcement.

The potential snowball impact is clearly on the thoughts of some Chinese language diplomats. The Chinese language mission to the United Nations, as an illustration, has known as the US transfer a mirrored image of “its mentality of the Chilly Conflict.”

“The US simply needs to politicize sports activities, create divisions and provoke confrontation. This strategy will discover no help and is doomed to fail. It can solely make them extra remoted and stand in opposition to the development of the instances and to the overwhelming majority of nations and other people world wide,” the mission’s spokesperson Zhu Zhiqiang stated in an announcement.

Washington’s response to the Beijing Winter Video games stands in stark distinction to its strategy to the Beijing Summer time Olympics 13 years in the past, when the Chinese language authorities confronted fierce criticism and protests towards its crackdown on Tibet.

In 2008, then-President George W. Bush attended the Olympic opening ceremony and cheered for American athletes throughout the Video games. His father, former President George H.W. Bush, additionally attended the Video games because the honorary captain of the US staff.

CNN’s Allie Malloy, Kate Sullivan and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.