China threatens with retaliation amid US boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

The Chinese government has warned its US counterpart of “firm countermeasures” to be followed should the US officially go ahead with the boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics Games as stated by Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Information Department.

The warning came after the Biden administration’s announcement on Monday, which says the US government officials will boycott the international winter sports event that is scheduled to take place from 4 to 20 February 2022 in Beijing.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary has said, “US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that”.

However, Ms. Psaki, added that US athletes will have the “full support” of the White House to compete at the game, indicating a full boycott is not expected.

The dispatching of high-level delegations to each Olympics has been a long-standing tradition by the world’s leading countries, including the US. Therefore, the disengagement of American officials on this international event would naturally fuel the ongoing diplomatic feud between the US and China, with these two global superpowers fighting over several key political topics, igniting a fierce rivalry.

In response to the news, the Chinese spokesperson Zhao said, “without being invited, American politicians are trying to politicise sports.” He called the move by the US a “pollical manipulation that violates Olympic spirits” and urged the US “to stop hying up the so-called ‘diplomatic boycott’ in order not to affect the two country’s future dialogue in crucial areas.”

Zhao also suggested China would take action to retaliate if the US proceeds with the boycott. However, details of the retaliation have not been revealed.

Although hopes of improved relations between the world’s two biggest economies had arisen during the just-concluded World Table Tennis Championship 2021 in Houston, where Chinese and US players were teamed up for doubles to mark the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy between China and the US, the latest episode has fuelled the tension between the two countries.

With the final decision by the US administration not yet announced, the relationship between the two superpowers remains uncertain. However, it can be expected that divides would be deepened shall the two parties not seek solutions through equal conversations before any decisive actions are taken.

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