China threatened “firm countermeasures” on Monday if the US continues with a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
State Department spokesman Zhao Lijian accused US leaders of high profile not to send dignitaries to events that China hopes will demonstrate its economic development and technological capabilities.
Speaking to reporters at a daily briefing, Zhao said such a move was “open political provocation,” but did not provide details on how China would take revenge.
US President Joe Biden has announced that he is considering a boycott that will continue to compete with American athletes, and an announcement is expected this week. Proponents of such a move cite China’s poor human rights record as a justification, saying China is using the Games to wash away its abuse of civil rights activists, political dissidents and ethnic minorities.
“Without being invited, American politicians repeatedly instigate the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, which is pure wishful thinking and deference,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.
“If the US side wants to go its own way, China will take decisive action,” said Zhao.
Senator Tom Cotton said Thursday he is calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China.
Sending high-level delegations to every Olympiad has a long tradition in the US and other leading nations – then-President George W. Bush attended the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. First Lady Jill Biden led the American contingent to the Tokyo Olympics that year and second gentleman Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympic Games.
The possibility of a diplomatic boycott is for the US to try to stabilize turbulent relations with Beijing, despite maintaining a tough stance on trade disputes and disputes over China’s actions on Taiwan, human rights, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
Beijing has reacted vigorously to all criticism from the United States, denouncing it as meddling in its internal affairs and banning American politicians, whom it regards as anti-China, with visa bans.
It wasn’t clear who the US might have sent to Beijing to attend the Games, and Zhao’s comments seemed to indicate that China has not issued invitations.
Australia, whose relations with China have broken down in a series of disputes, has also raised the possibility of a diplomatic boycott.
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