China says U.S. diplomatic boycott violates Olympic spirit


BEIJING – China accused the United States of violating the Olympic spirit on Tuesday after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games on human rights grounds.

The United States is trying to interfere with the Beijing Games “out of ideological prejudice and on the basis of lies and rumors,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

The boycott “seriously violates the principle of political neutrality in sports established by the Olympic Charter and goes against the Olympic motto” more united “,” Zhao said.

As he did the day before, Zhao vowed that China would respond with “resolute countermeasures,” but gave no details.

“The United States will pay the price for its practices. You can stay tuned for follow-ups, ”Zhao said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the Biden administration will fully support American athletes participating in the Games, but will not send diplomats or officials to attend.

Psaki said the United States has a “fundamental commitment to promoting human rights” and that it “will not contribute to the Games fanfare.”

The diplomatic boycott comes as the United States tries to make the connection between stabilizing difficult relations with Beijing and maintaining a firm stance on trade and political disputes. The United States has accused China of human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in northwestern Xinjiang province, repression of democratic movements in Hong Kong, military aggression against the autonomous island of Taiwan and more Again.

Other major countries have yet to say whether they will follow the American lead.

Beijing has denounced US criticism and punitive sanctions as interference in its internal affairs and has imposed visa bans on US politicians it considers anti-Chinese.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington dismissed the move as a posture in a tweet.

“In fact, no one would care whether these people come or not, and it has no impact on the success of # Beijing2022,” the embassy said.

China’s mission to the United Nations called the boycott a “self-managed political farce.”

Even the notoriously opaque ruling Communist Party’s Central Disciplinary Commission posted a response in the form of a long screed on its website titled “The Spirit of the Olympic Charter cannot be tarnished.”

“Some Western anti-China politicians” have displayed a “defensive Cold War mentality aimed at politicizing the sport,” the article said, calling it “a blatant violation of the Olympic spirit and a challenge to all who love the Olympic movement “.

People on the streets of Beijing were generally dismissive of the United States’ decision.

“I don’t think it matters at all whether they come or not. The Olympic Games do not concern one country or several countries, “said Deng Tao, employee of the café.

“Such remarks from someone we have never invited are just a joke. And I don’t think it will have much impact on hosting the Winter Olympics, ”said Lu Xiaolei, who works in trade.

It was not clear which officials the United States could have sent to Beijing for the Games, and Zhao said on Monday that no invitations had been issued by China.

Amid calls for a boycott, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that the country would make its own decision “from the point of view of national interests, taking into account the importance of the Olympics and the importance of diplomacy. Japanese ”.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said a decision on the participation of officials would be taken “at the appropriate time.”

“In any case, Japan hopes that the Beijing Winter Games will be organized as a celebration of peace in accordance with the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Matsuno said.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam declined to comment on the US decision and said the ministry had not received any request from its ally not to send officials.

South Korea hopes that the Beijing Olympics “will contribute to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world and help improve South Korea-North Korea relations,” said Choi.

New Zealand said on Tuesday it would not attend the games at the diplomatic level, but made the decision earlier mainly due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.

The country informed China in October of its intention not to send government ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said.

“But we have made our concerns about human rights issues clear to China on numerous occasions,” said Robertson.

Australia, whose relations with China have grown increasingly strained, has yet to say whether it will send dignitaries.

Sending high-level delegations to each Olympic Games has a long tradition in the United States and other leading countries. Then-President George W. Bush attended the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. First Lady Jill Biden led the US contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and Second Mister Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympics.

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