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China threatens ‘countermeasures’ if US proceeds with diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympic Games

China on Monday threatened ‘resolute countermeasures’ if the US follows through with its diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The Biden administration is expected to announce the diplomatic boycott this week, meaning US government officials will not attend the games but American athletes will still compete. 

The move would seek to balance the demands of human rights activists who want a full withdrawal due to China‘s abuse of its Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province and athletes who have trained for a lifetime to compete. 

However, only fans from mainland China are allowed to attend the games this year, which will run Feb. 4-20, 2022.  

‘If the U.S. insists in willfully clinging to its course, China will take resolute countermeasures,’ China’s foreign minister Zhao Lijian said at a news conference Monday. 

Zhao said that those calling for a boycott are ‘grandstanding’ and must stop ‘so as not to affect the dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States in important areas.’  

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Biden virtually sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November, where the world leaders expressed their disagreement on many things 

The Biden administration is expected to announce the diplomatic boycott this week, meaning US government officials will not attend the games but American athletes will still compete

The Biden administration is expected to announce the diplomatic boycott this week, meaning US government officials will not attend the games but American athletes will still compete

Only fans from mainland China are allowed to attend the games this year, which will run Feb. 4-20, 2022

Only fans from mainland China are allowed to attend the games this year, which will run Feb. 4-20, 2022

Biden virtually sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November, where the world leaders expressed their disagreement on the handling of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and competition rules, Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal and its stepped-up pressure on Taiwan, among other issues.

The Olympics issue did not come up this week in Biden’s nearly 3 and a half hour meeting with Xi, according to White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates. A White House official said earlier that the two world leaders engaged in ‘healthy debate’ but there weren’t any breakthroughs. 

According to a readout of the call, Biden did raise concerns of China’s practices with Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly.

The US will inform allies of its decision but leave it up to them to make their own call on whether to attend the 2022 Beijing games. 

First Lady Jill Biden last attended the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.  

The last time the US fully boycotted the Olympics was in 1980, when the games were hosted in Moscow, Russia. Sixty-five countries, led by the US, withdrew from the games in protest of of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 

The US not only did not allow its athletes to compete but also told them they risked losing their US passport if they tried to compete on their own under the Olympic flag.         

Human rights activists disrupted the traditional flame lighting ceremony in southern Greece last month, angry that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had scheduled the games for Beijing. They have dubbed the 2022 Olympics the ‘genocide games.’ 

In July 2021, the European parliament and the UK Parliament voted for a diplomatic boycott of the winter games. In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed for a diplomatic boycott as a way to avoid punishing athletes. 

Some Olympic broadcasters, including NBC, pushed to cancel broadcasting plans for the games due to human rights abuses. 

Beijing launched a brutal targeted campaign against its Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province that swept up to a million or more Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons. 

Chinese authorities say their goal is not to eliminate the Uighurs — a historically Muslim group of 13 million people — but to integrate them. 

China has also faced international criticism for its crackdown on protesters on Hong Kong, encroachment on Taiwan and Tibet and cover up of the origins of Covid-19. 

Chinese state media reported after the summit that Xi cautioned Biden that encouraging Taiwanese independence would be ‘playing with fire.’

‘Some people in the US intend to ‘use Taiwan to control China.’ This trend is very dangerous and is like playing with fire, and those who play with fire will get burned,’ he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Weeks later Biden infuriated China by inviting Taiwan to a virtual democracy summit in December. 

There are 110 participants on the State Department’s invitation list for the virtual event on Dec. 9 and 10, which will discuss bolstering democracy and human rights throughout the world. China was left off the list.  

China considers Taiwan to be nothing more than an unruly extension of mainland territory. The US recognized the island democracy’s autonomy until 1979, but the two nations still enjoy a ‘robust unofficial relationship.’


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