Asia

‘No one cares’: China responds to boycotts


China says “no one would care” if officials from countries including Australia decide to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

China says “no one would care” if officials from countries including Australia decide to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said Australia was “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games in February next year, amid concerns over the safety of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

The United States on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott, citing human rights abuses, but the move will not stop US athletes from competing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was asked about Mr Morrison’s comments on Monday.

“We have said on multiple occasions that the Beijing Winter Olympics is a grand gathering of global winter sports athletes and fans, rather than a platform for certain politicians’ political stunts,” he said.

“According to Olympic rules, dignitaries are invited by the National Olympic Committee to attend the Olympic Games. It is up to the NOC to decide whether to send invitations or not. The Olympic Charter explicitly stipulates that sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall apply political neutrality, and opposes any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes.”

Mr Zhao noted that Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates has opposed a diplomatic boycott.

“Politicians calling for boycott are doing so for their own political interests and posturing,” he said. “In fact, no one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Olympics to be successfully held by Beijing.”

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The press briefing was held prior to the announcement of the Biden administration’s boycott.

Asked to comment on the possibility, and on reports of a potential of a Japanese diplomatic boycott, Mr Zhao again said the Games were “not a stage for political posturing and manipulation” and threatened “countermeasures”.

“US politicians keep hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games,” he said.

“This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It 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. It will only make the Chinese people and the world see clearly US politicians’ anti-China nature and hypocrisy.”

Mr Zhao said the US should “adopt a right attitude, act in accordance with the Olympic spirit of ‘together’, treat China’s concerns seriously, and avoid politicising sports”.

“It should stop hyping the so-called ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Winter Games, lest it should affect bilateral dialogue and co-operation in important areas,” he said.

“If the US is bent on having its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration would not send any diplomatic or official representation given China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses”.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” she said. “We will be behind them 100 per cent as we cheer them on from home.”

For months, the US government has been trying to find the best way to position itself with regard to the Winter Games, hosted from February 4-20, by a country it accuses of perpetrating “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang – a province in northwest China.

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Several human rights organisations have accused Beijing of having interned at least one million Muslims in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”.

Sending official representation to the Olympics would signal that, despite China’s “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang”, the Games were “business as usual”, Ms Psaki said.

“And we simply can’t do that,” she continued.

The boycott was met with support on both sides of the political aisle in America but prompted a furious response from Chinese state media.

China Daily bureau chief Chen Weihua tweeted, “You’re not invited and not welcome, Mr Biden. Hope you will live long enough to see China boycotting Los Angeles Summer Games in 2028.”

frank.chung@news.com.au

— with AFP

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