China accused the United States on Tuesday of violating the Olympic spirit by announcing a US diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games in Beijing in February, amid an increasingly bitter feud over the Biden administration’s decision not to send officials. because of human rights issues.
The US is trying to meddle in the Beijing Winter Olympics “out of ideological bias and on the basis of lies and rumours,” State Department spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing.
The boycott “is a serious violation of the principle of political neutrality of sports enshrined in the Olympic Charter and is contrary to the Olympic motto of ‘more united’,” Zhao said.
Like the previous day, Zhao vowed that China would respond with “resolute countermeasures,” but gave no details.
“The US will pay a price for its practices. You can stay tuned for follow-ups,” Zhao said.
His comments came amid a barrage of Chinese criticism of Monday’s announcement by the Biden administration. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the government will fully support US athletes competing in the Games, but will not send US diplomats or officials.
Psaki said the US has a “fundamental commitment to promoting human rights” and that the US “will not contribute to the fanfare of the Games”.
The diplomatic boycott comes as the US attempts to stabilize turbulent relations with Beijing, even as it maintains a crackdown on trade and conflict over China’s actions against Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and its treatment of ethnic minorities. minorities, especially Muslim Uyghurs.
Beijing has counterattacked US criticism and punitive sanctions, denouncing them as meddling in its domestic affairs and banning US politicians it sees as anti-China.
Zhao called on the US to “stop politicizing sports” and what he said were actions undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, “otherwise it will undermine dialogue and cooperation between the two countries on a range of key areas and international issues.” .”
The Chinese embassy in Washington tweeted that politicians calling for a boycott are “doing so for their own political interests and prejudices”.
“In fact, no one would care whether these people come or not, and it will have no bearing on the success of #Beijing2022,” the embassy said.
China’s mission to the United Nations called the boycott a “self-directed political farce.”
“The US just wants to politicize the sport, create divisions and provoke confrontations,” it said.
Even the ruling Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection gave a response in the form of a screed on its website titled “The Spirit of the Olympic Charter Cannot Be Affected”.
“Some Western anti-Chinese politicians” have displayed a “defensive Cold War mentality aimed at politicizing sports,” the article said, calling it a “clear violation of the Olympic spirit and a challenge to all people who keep the Olympic movement.”
It was not clear which officials Washington would have sent, and Zhao said on Monday that China had not received an invitation.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told Germany’s DPA news agency that the Olympics “cannot solve problems that generations of politicians have not solved.”
“What is our responsibility and what are our limits,” Bach said on Monday, shortly before the US announced its decision. “Our responsibility is to hold the Games in accordance with the Olympic Charter… and to bring together the athletes of 206 teams and the IOC refugee team under one roof.
“Going beyond this, expecting the Olympics to fundamentally change a country, its political system or its laws is a completely exaggerated expectation. The Olympics cannot solve problems that generations of politicians have not solved.”
Other major countries have yet to say whether they will follow the US lead. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that Japan will make its own decision “from the perspective of national interests, taking into account the significance of the Olympic Games and the significance of Japanese diplomacy. This is our country’s basic stance.”
Japanese Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it remains unclear what the diplomatic boycott means and that a decision on the officials present will be made “at an appropriate time”.
“In any case, Japan hopes that the Winter Games will be held in Beijing as a celebration of peace in accordance with the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Matsuno said.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said the ministry has no comment on a “diplomatic decision by the government of another country” and has not received a request from the US to send officials.
South Korea hopes the Beijing Olympics will “contribute to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world and help improve relations between South and North Korea,” Choi said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose relations with China have deteriorated in recent years, said on Wednesday his government would join the US in the diplomatic boycott.
China reacted furiously to Morrison’s announcement, with China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying no Australian officials had been invited to the Olympics and that “no one would care if they come or not.” Wang called Morrison’s announcement “political posturing.”
Referring to the US, Wang said Australia “blindly followed certain countries in their steps of confusing right and wrong without a bottom line.”
New Zealand said on Tuesday it will not attend the Games at a diplomatic level, but made the decision earlier, mainly due to pandemic travel restrictions. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand told China in October about its plans not to send ministers.
“But we have made it clear to China on numerous occasions that we are concerned about human rights issues,” Robertson said, adding that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had raised those concerns directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Sending high-level delegations to every Olympics has long been a tradition among the US and other leading countries. Then-President George W. Bush attended the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. First lady Jill Biden led the US contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year, and second Lord Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympic Games.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.