China is demanding the U.S. immediately halt all “interference” against the Winter Olympics, scheduled to begin on Feb. 4 in Beijing and nearby Hebei Province.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Yi made the demand during a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday morning. The warning is in apparent reference to some Western countries deciding to hold diplomatic boycotts of the upcoming Games.
The U.S., U.K., and Canada have stated that they will not send dignitaries to the Games over widespread allegations of human rights abuse orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Over 1 million Uyghur Muslims — an ethnic minority from the northwestern region of Xinjiang — remain jailed in concentration camps across the country and subject to harrowing accounts of abuse and potential genocide.
The CCP has a long track record of targeting religious faiths and minorities for violent assimilation to its atheist ideology. In addition to Uyghurs, the Party has also targeted Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Christians and adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, many of whom have suffered persecution for decades.
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The boycott will only prevent dignitaries, not athletes, from participating in the Games. However, according to Chinese authorities, all athletes and participants will be held to strict COVID-19 rules and warned that any violations in protocol may be subject to “serious punishment.”
Beijing has also reportedly protested what it claims to be calls within the State Department to withdraw staff and their dependents from the embassy and consulates around China over the tightening of these restrictions.
“The U.S. continuously puts forward wrong words and actions toward China, causing new conflicts in relations between the two countries,” Wang was quoted as telling reporters.
According to NPR news, Wang also complained to Blinken that the Biden administration has maintained “tough political and economic policies enacted earlier despite its expressed wishes for a less confrontational relationship.”
In addition, Wang called for an immediate end of American support for self-ruling Taiwan — which the CCP claims as part of its territory and has vowed to reclaim by any means necessary. According to a news release posted on the Chinese Ministry’s website on Thursday, Wang warned of potential retaliation if the U.S. continued to back the island and said China is “fully prepared to deal with any foreign provocations or emergency situations” that may arise.
A brief statement released by the State Department on Jan. 26 said that the call between Wang and Blinken included “views on how to manage strategic risk, health security and climate change.”
The statement did not mention the Olympic Games or Taiwan but said Blinken “underscored the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”