China warns of ‘firm countermeasures’ if US stages diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

China is threatening to take “firm countermeasures” against the U.S. if the Biden administration decides to go ahead with a possible diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February next year.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said such a move would be an “outright political provocation,” but gave no details on how China would retaliate, The Associated Press reported.

Those calling for a boycott should stop “so as not to affect the dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States in important areas,” Zhao added, according to Reuters.

The Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics this week, CNN reported on Sunday. The White House declined to comment on CNN’s report.

The decision would mean no U.S. government officials attend next year’s Games, though U.S. athletes could still compete. 

“Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic, which is purely wishful thinking and grandstanding,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing, according to the AP.

The potential U.S. boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics comes as ties between the two countries have been strained by China’s actions on Taiwan, human rights, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and trade.

Beijing has denounced U.S. criticism, calling it an interference in internal affairs.

Last month, President Biden said a diplomatic boycott was “something we are considering.” At that time, the White House said Biden had “serious concerns” about issues in China, including alleged human rights abuses and genocide against minority Muslims.

U.S. political delegations to the Olympics have been a long-standing tradition. First lady Jill Biden led the American contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and second gentleman Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympic Games.

The U.S. is not the only country to mull a diplomatic boycott to the Games in February. Australia said it is also considering a diplomatic boycott of the games and Lithuania has called for “some level of coordination” between European Union member countries and “the transatlantic regarding the potential boycott.”

Tags Beijing Games diplomatic boycott Doug Emhoff Jill Biden Joe Biden Winter Olympics

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