China: US must ‘pay a price’ for boycotting Winter Olympics over human rights abuses

·2-min read

China has vowed the United States will have to “pay a price” after the US declared it would diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics over human rights abuses.

The White House announced on Monday government officials would boycott the event because of human rights “atrocities”. The move does not stop US athletes competing.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday the country would take “resolute countermeasures”.

Without elaborating, he said: "The United States will pay a price for its mistaken acts. Let’s all wait and see."

Mr Zhao also accused the US of violating "political neutrality in sport" and said the justification behind the boycott was "based on lies and rumours".

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday the government believes having its diplomats at the event would legitimise China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.

"U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses," she said.

China has been accused of systematic human rights abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority in vast internment camps which the US has labelled a genocide.

Lithuania announced last week it was diplomatically boycotting the games while New Zealand has said its diplomatic boycott was for coronavirus reasons.

Australia, Britain and Japan have said they are still considering their positions.

The move falls short of a full US Olympic boycott, which last happened in 1980, when US athletes did not compete at the Moscow Olympics to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Some senior Congress figures praised the move, with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker in the House of Representatives, saying the world could not "proceed as if there is nothing wrong with holding the Olympics in a country perpetrating genocide".

But others have said the boycott does not go far enough, including Senator Tom Cotton who said athletes should also not be competing.

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