China has reacted angrily to the US government’s diplomatic boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics, as more countries said they would consider joining the protest against Beijing’s rights record. and that New Zealand has announced that it will not send representatives to the Games.
Chinese officials called the Washington boycott “an attitude and political manipulation” and tried to discredit the decision by claiming that US diplomats weren’t even invited to Beijing in the first place.
The White House confirmed on Monday that it will not send any official or diplomatic representatives to the Winter Games and the Paralympic Games in February ”, given the [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses ”.
“The athletes of Team USA have our full support,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “We will be 100% behind them as we encourage them from home. We will not be contributing to the Games fanfare.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed on Tuesday that the country will not send diplomatic representatives at the ministerial level. Robertson cited Covid-19 as the main reason “but we have made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns regarding human rights issues,” he said.
The UK, Canada and Australia have said they are reflecting on their positions. Last week, Lithuania, which faces trade and diplomatic hostilities from China over growing ties with Taiwan, announced that neither its president nor ministers will attend the games.
Chinese authorities responded to the US announcement with indignation and also with preventive dismissal. Liu Xiaoming, former Chinese ambassador to the UK, said the Olympics were “not a scene of political posture and manipulation.”
“American politicians continue to tout a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games. This wishful thinking and pure demagoguery are aimed at political manipulation, ”he said.
“It is a serious parody of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese. This will only make the Chinese people and the world clearly see the anti-Chinese nature and hypocrisy of American politicians. “
Liu’s tweets reflected the language of several other Chinese officials before and after the announcement.
The Chinese embassy in Washington called the boycott a “pretentious act” and “political manipulation”.
Earlier Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Washington of “touting a” diplomatic boycott “without even being invited to the Games,” and threatened “resolute countermeasures” not specified if a boycott was announced.
An American boycott has received the backing of senior lawmakers, including Republican Mitt Romney and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Calls for a boycott have intensified in recent months, as dozens of global governments consider how to respond to Beijing’s continued crackdown on ethnic minorities in China, its intervention in Hong Kong, and other issues of the nation. human rights. Demands escalated further over the case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who was not seen for nearly three weeks after posting a sexual assault charge against the former vice-premier on social media. Chinese minister. She was later shown in state media as being in Beijing, but there are still many concerns about her well-being and level of freedom.
Rights groups hailed the US announcement and called on other governments to follow suit.
Mark Clifford, chairman of the British advocacy group Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong, said the United States had “shown the way” for world leaders.
“Work with the United States and Lithuania and take the only morally justifiable course of action by implementing diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics – or accept that you endorse some of the most horrific abuses of a population by their own government in modern times, ”he said.
The last time the United States organized a boycott of the Olympics was the 1980 Moscow Games, alongside 64 other countries and territories in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the year before.