Responding to the USA‘s announcement of the boycott, the Chinese Foreign Ministry hit out at the country for trying to “disrupt” the games, warning that it “will pay a price for its mistakes”. The White House confirmed yesterday that it will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, as a protest against “crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”
Press Secretary Jen 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 ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support.
“We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.
“We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”
On Tuesday, New Zealand threw its weight behind the US, with Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirming that the country would not send diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level.
Mr Robertson cited Covid-19 as the primary reason but added: “we’ve made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues.”
Earlier, Chinese officials dismissed the boycott as “posturing and political manipulation”, claiming that US diplomats had not even been invited to Beijing in the first place.
Liu Xiaoming, the former Chinese ambassador to the UK, said the Olympics were “not a stage for political posturing and manipulation”.
Meanwhile, China’s embassy in Washington dismissed the boycott as “a pretentious act” and a “political manipulation”.
Earlier on Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, threatened unspecified “resolute countermeasures” if a boycott was announced.
He also accused Washington of “hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games”.
Calls to boycott the games have grown in recent months, amid Beijing’s continued crackdown on ethnic minorities in China, its intervention on Hong Kong, and other human rights issues.
The tensions recently peaked after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai was not seen for nearly three weeks, after posting to social media an accusation of sexual assault against Chinese former vice-premier.
She was later shown on state media to be in Beijing, but there remain widespread concerns about her wellbeing and level of freedom.
Speaking about the boycott, President of the UK-based advocacy group Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong, Mark Clifford said that the US had “shown the way” to other global leaders, calling Chinese human rights abuses “the most horrific abuses inflicted upon a population by their own government in modern times.”
He said: “Work with the US and Lithuania and take up the only morally justifiable course of action by implementing diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing – or accept that you are endorsing some of the most horrific abuses inflicted upon a population by their own government in modern times.”