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CHINA hit back yesterday at the US decision to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, saying Washington was acting “out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumours.”
The Joe Biden administration said on Monday that its diplomats would stay away from the February games in protest at what it said were human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.
The boycott does not extend to US athletes, and Washington said it would be supporting them as normal.
But it flies in the face of an overwhelming UN general assembly vote for an “Olympic truce” and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united’.”
“The US will pay a price. Stay tuned,” Mr Zhao told reporters yesterday.
China’s Washington embassy said the boycott had been announced “for [US politicians’] own political interests and posturing,” adding: “In fact, no-one would care about whether these people come or not,” while its UN mission said it was a “political farce.”
Washington’s decision comes in the week it plans to host a “summit for democracy” that China views as a thinly veiled exercise in anti-communist propaganda.
There was little sign initially that other countries would follow the US’s lead, with Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno saying he wasn’t sure what a “diplomatic boycott” of the sporting event would even mean.
“In any case, Japan hopes the Beijing Winter Games will be held as a celebration of peace in line with the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
The Biden administration has accused China of “genocide” in Xinjiang directed against the autonomous region’s Uighur Muslims. China retorts that the Uighur Muslim population of the region has grown significantly over the last decade, points out that Xinjiang’s Governor Shohrat Zakir is himself a Uighur and says US claims of mass internment are bogus.
It says it has established re-education camps for jihadists from terrorist organisations such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, who seek a separate state in Xinjiang run along theocratic lines.
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