China protests US diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics; warns resolute counter measures

Beijing, Dec 7 (PTI) A livid China on Tuesday lodged a stern protest with the US, hours after the White House announced the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, saying it was against the Olympic spirit and warning of “resolute counter measures” against Washington.

The US will conduct a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, US White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Monday, citing alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang province against minority groups – a move which is expected to further damage the already turbulent US-China ties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian decried the US move, saying the charge of genocide against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang is a lie of the century fabricated by Washington.

Out of ideological bias and based on lies and rumours the US is attempting to disrupt the Beijing Winter Olympics. This will expose its malicious intentions further and will lead to its loss of moral authority and credibility , he said.

The label fits the US the best, he said, referring to the crimes committed against native the Americans in the past.

China in recent months mounted a major propaganda offensive to deny the allegations of massive human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang where it was accused of incarcerating thousands in camps as part of the crackdown against the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Zhao said the US boycott runs counter to the Olympic charter principle that sports should maintain political neutrality as well as the Olympic motto of standing together.

China deplores and rejects this and lodged solemn representations and will take resolute counter measures , he said, vowing retaliation from Beijing.

When asked what retaliatory measures Beijing would take, he said, Stay tuned.”

Top US officials, including President Joe Biden, have criticised Beijing for human rights abuses against Uyghurs in northwest Xinjiang province, suppression of democratic protests in Hong Kong, military aggression against the self-ruled island of Taiwan and more.

He also took a dig at the US for deciding diplomatic boycott even before the invitations were sent for the Winter Olympics scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20 February in Beijing and towns in the neighboring Hebei province.

Before receiving any invitation, the US side is linking government officials’ attendance to the so-called human rights issues in Xinyang,” he said.

The invitations are to be sent by the National Olympics Committees, Zhao said.

This is the rules of the Olympics. Whether the US official attends the Beijing games to root for their athletes is their own decision , he said.

China will surely present a streamlined, safe and splendid Winter Olympic Games to the world, he said.

The US should stop politicising sports and stop disrupting the Beijing winter Olympics with words or deeds, otherwise it might harm dialogue and cooperation in bilateral and international issues, he said.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Psaki said, “The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”

The diplomatic boycott meant that no top official of the US or its diplomats will take part in the inaugural and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics which will dent the shine on the prestigious event that also makes the Chinese capital the only city in the world to have hosted both the summer (2008) and the winter Olympic games, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The US first lady Jill Biden led the American contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and the second gentleman Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympic Games.

China has already announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s invitation to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics to be held in February next year.

The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 per cent, as we cheer them on from home, Psaki said, adding that we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.

Besides the US, the EU and several other western countries are expected to diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics.

New Zealand has announced that it will not send diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has said. He cited COVID-19 as the reason.

Added to China’s woes was the recent sex scandal involving one of the top former Chinese Communist Party officials, Zhang Gaoli, leading to the World Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announcing a suspension of all of its tournaments in China.

Peng Shuai, 35, a three-time Olympian and two-time doubles Grand Slam winner, went missing after she alleged over China’s social media account WeChat on November 17 that she was forced into a sexual relationship by China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, after his retirement from power in 2017.

Her explosive #MeToo allegation posted in her WeChat account was scrubbed out of social media by Chinese censors. Subsequently, reports stating that she went missing created an international furore.

The UN, the US and a host of international Tennis stars, including Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, expressed concern over Peng’s sudden disappearance and asked China to disclose her whereabouts.

The WTA suspended the events in China even after the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach said she is safe after having a video conversation with her.