US Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Games Angers China | International

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A man plays with a child next to a sculpture with the Olympic rings in Shougang Park in Beijing on Tuesday.
A man plays with a child next to a sculpture with the Olympic rings in Shougang Park in Beijing on Tuesday.NOEL CELIS (AFP)

The Chinese government reacted furiously on Tuesday to Washington’s announcement of a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics that will open in February in Beijing. If the day before he had promised “strong countermeasures” in case the veto is consummated, now he has assured that the United States “will pay the price” for that decision.

It doesn’t matter that the diplomatic boycott of an Olympic Games, for practical or sporting purposes, does not mean much: American athletes will attend the event. It did not matter, too, that Beijing would refrain from inviting top US officials to the competition, as it had claimed last week that it would. The move announced by the White House on Monday in retaliation against China’s crackdown on the Uighur minority in Xinjiang or freedoms in Hong Kong is intended to deliver a slap – soft, but slap – to the rival country. And the Xi Jinping government, which aspires to take advantage of the sporting event in February to show the world the rise of its country, has accepted it as such.

In the daily press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the spokesman Zhao Lijian has assured that what Washington presents as a punishment is nothing more than a “plot destined to fail” to try to damage the Games. And who will end up paying a price, he argued, will be the United States itself, which the spokesman accused of having violated sports neutrality.

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Zhao has repeated the warning that he himself had issued the day before, also at the Foreign press conference, about retaliatory measures by China, although he has not specified what they will be specifically, or when they will be announced. For the moment, his Government has presented a formal diplomatic protest for the boycott, as announced by the spokesman, one of the most representative diplomats of the trend known as “warrior wolves”, especially aggressive when it comes to verbally defending the interests of his country.

Zhago added on Tuesday that “the United States tries to damage the Games based on its ideological bias, lies and rumors. But the boycott will only make people around the world more aware of his sinister intentions, and that will further erode his moral authority and credibility. ” The spokesman called the US complaints about the situation in Xinjiang the “lie of the century.”

Less hair on the tongue has still shown the newspaper Global Times, owned by the Communist Party of China and nationalist in tone. In a context in which both countries have exchanged accusations and mutual doubts about the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper has published on its Twitter account – a social network censored in China – that “frankly, we Chinese are relieved to find out of the news, because the fewer US officials come, the less viruses will get in. “

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The new friction opens a new front of confrontation between the two rivals, and ends the brief and relative armistice achieved with the meeting by videoconference in mid-November between US President Joe Biden and Xi. That conversation tried to explore ways to avoid that disagreements between the two governments could end up unleashing “a conflict, desired or not”, and allow a return to more constructive ties. As a result, an agreement emerged from that event to relax the visa restrictions that each country imposes on the correspondents of the other.

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Although beyond the tensions that are already part of the daily routine between the two governments, China is concerned that other Western countries could join the US boycott of the Beijing Games. Australia has indicated that it has not made a decision, while New Zealand has justified with the argument of the fight against covid not to send personalities from its country. The UK and Japan have announced that they have not yet decided whether to participate in the boycott. France and the Netherlands, for their part, have shown their interest in adopting a joint position with their European partners; While Italy – which will host the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo – has informed Reuters through a government source that it has no intention of joining the diplomatic boycott. The G7 meeting that will take place in the British city of Liverpool this week is expected to address the matter, among other issues.

Human rights organizations and activists are calling for greater pressure on Beijing, a call that has gained more force as a result of the case of tennis player Peng Shuai. The athlete denounced former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli for alleged sexual abuse in early November, and disappeared for two weeks before reappearing in a series of public events that have not dispelled calls for clarification of her situation.

So far, due to the strict anti-COVID measures imposed by China on those arriving from abroad, few leaders have confirmed their presence in Beijing. Yes, Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Olympic event at the invitation of Xi Jinping.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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