China Slams US for 'Trying to Disrupt' Beijing Olympics, Vows Response to Diplomatic Boycott
07:04 GMT 07.12.2021 (Updated: 08:35 GMT 07.12.2021)
Late on Monday, the Biden administration confirmed reports that it would not send any US government officials to the event. White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited alleged human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang and other regions as the reason for the boycott.
The United States is "trying to disrupt" the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated, slamming Washington's decision to issue a diplomatic boycott
of the event as "ideological prejudice". The move will only lead to the loss of America's moral authority and credibility the ministry said, emphasising that the boycott is doomed to fail.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also stressed that the US decision to issue a diplomatic boycott would harm bilateral dialogue and cooperation in important areas between the two nations. Beijing firmly opposes the move and will take resolute countermeasures, Zhao Lijian said, adding that the United states will pay a price for its mistakes.
Late on Monday, when the United States announced its decision, China said that no US officials had been invited to attend the Winter Games due to coronavirus restrictions.
"No one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held", said Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, adding that the "diplomatic boycott simply comes out of nowhere".
It is unclear whether other Western countries, particularly close US allies, will follow in Washington's footsteps. Previously, reports suggested that Australia and the United Kingdom were considering issuing a diplomatic boycott. BBC correspondent Robin Brant said a UK official, involved in policy on China, told him that Downing Street fears Britain would be seen as the White House's "poodle" if it joins the boycott.
UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has signalled that the United Kingdom will too shun the event. "I was asked whether I will go, I will not go and we'll consider (the level of wider representation) in due course", he said.
New Zealand will not send any government officials to the Winter Games in Beijing, but the decision was based on COVID-19 concerns. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is said to be the only major world leader who has accepted an invitation from Beijing.
Washington's decision follows months of speculation and calls from rights groups to boycott the event. Announcing its decision, the Biden administration said that US officials will shun the sports event because of China's alleged human rights "atrocities" against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
Human rights groups have long said that members of this Muslim ethnic group are reportedly being held in detention camps and frequently used in forced labour. In addition, Chinese authorities were accused of forcibly sterilising Uyghur women. Beijing has denied all the accusations and said the facilities that rights groups refer to are in fact "vocational training centres" used to eradicate extremism and stamp out poverty.
Aside from Xinjiang, the United States and China have had disagreements on a number of issues, including what Washington describes as suppression of freedom in Hong Kong, the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the South China Sea.
The boycott comes several weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden
held talks aimed at easing tensions between the two nations.
In the United States, the boycott was praised by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he "applauded" Joe Biden's decision.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton too praised the move, but called it a "half measure" and argued that the Biden administration should have chosen to go with a "full boycott" of the Winter Olympics.
The US diplomatic boycott also comes on the heels of ongoing anger over the treatment of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai
, who disappeared from public view after she accused a high-ranking Chinese official of sexual assault. The Women's Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China because of "serious doubts" about the athlete's safety.
The International Olympic Committee said the games should be "beyond politics".