US to Diplomatically Boycott Winter Olympics, Beijing Calls it 'Posturing'
The Biden government cited "egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang" as the cause for the boycott.
Officials of the Joe Biden administration will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing what they call China's human rights "atrocities", the White House announced on Monday, 6 December, Reuters reported.
The announcement comes just a few weeks after Biden and Xi Jinping met to relax tense relations between the two world powers.
Jen Psaki, who is the White House press secretary said that "US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that", reported Reuters.
The US government, under former President Donald Trump, referred to the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China's western region of Xinjiang as an act of genocide. Biden is taking that policy forward, maintaining the use of the word "genocide", and using it as the reason for the diplomatic boycott.
US athletes, however, are free to travel to China to compete in the Winter Olympics.
"The athletes on Team USA have our full support, we will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home," Psaki added.
'Weren't Invited in the First Place': China Reacts
Beijing reacted furiously to the boycott, calling it "posturing and political manipulation", and further claiming that American diplomats hadn't been invited to the Olympics in the first place.
"US politicians keep hyping a 'diplomatic boycott' without even being invited to the Games", said Liu Xiaoming, the former Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported.
Threatening "resolute countermeasures", Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry lamented that the US decision is "a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people."
The announcement is expected to worsen Sino-American relations, which are already at a pretty low point.
(With inputs from Reuters and The Guardian)
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