Beijing Olympics: US considers diplomatic boycott over alleged human rights abuses
President Joe Biden said on Thursday he was considering a US diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, in what would be an attempt to show toughness over China’s rights abuses without impacting US athletes.
That is “something we are considering”, Biden told reporters while meeting with Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, at the White House. The Beijing Olympics take place next February.
Biden’s comments followed a long-awaited video summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping late on Monday, during which the two leaders said they wanted to ensure stability and prevent accidental conflicts.
The US president is under pressure at home to speak out on China’s human rights abuses, especially in the Xinjiang region where the US government says repression of the Uighur ethnic group qualifies as genocide.
China’s foreign ministry on Friday brushed off the rights accusations as “inconsistent with the truth and completely groundless”, calling Washington’s claims a “joke in the eyes of Chinese people”.
Lithuania will ‘pay for what it did’: China
China on Friday said Lithuania will “pay for what it did”, a day after the Baltic nation allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital.
“Lithuania only has itself to blame, it will have to pay for what it did,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Friday.
China’s reaction came after Lithuania allowed Taipei to open a representative office in the capital, Vilnius, ignoring Beijing’s strong opposition. China claims Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as a breakaway region to be reunified by force if required.
Only 15 countries have direct diplomatic ties with Taiwan, prompting China to say those countries violate the “one China” policy under which only the mainland is recognised formally.
Agency reports from Taipei quoted the Taiwanese foreign ministry as saying that the opening of the office would “charter a new and promising course” for Taiwan-Lithuania ties.
US warns China on action against Philippines
The US on Friday accused China of an escalation against the Philippines and warned that an armed attack would invite a US response after an incident in disputed waters.
“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability,” state department spokesman Ned Price said.
(With inputs from Sutirtho Patranobis)