China said Monday it will take “countermeasures” if the United States called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, hours after unconfirmed reports that the Biden administration could announce such a move this week.
CNN and NBC cited unnamed sources Sunday as saying the diplomatic boycott — meaning no US government officials would attend the Games, but athletes would still compete — could be revealed this week, after President Joe Biden said in November it was something he was “considering.”
Biden is under pressure at home to speak out on China’s human rights abuses, especially in Xinjiang where the US government says repression of the Uyghur ethnic group qualifies as genocide.
In response to reports Beijing said such a move would be “pure grandstanding”.
“I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on Monday, warning the US should stop “hyping” the boycott.
“If the US is bent on having its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures,” Zhao said.
Campaigners say that at least one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.
Coming just six months after the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Games, the Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to 20 in a “closed loop” bubble because of Covid-19 restrictions.