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US Announces Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Winter Olympics; China Threatens To Retaliate

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The United States said it will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the 2022 Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games in Beijing in protest against the Chinese government's ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, as well as other human rights abuses.

Announcing the decision at a news conference Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, "As the President (Biden) has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond".

The White House decision means the U.S. team will be taking part in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20 in Beijing and the neighboring Hebei province, but Washington will not send high-level government representatives to the quadrennial winter sports event.

At the summer Olympics held in Tokyo earlier this year, First Lady Jill Biden had led the U.S. delegation.

"The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games," Psaki told reporters.

When asked if the Biden administration will urge American companies that are supporting and sponsoring the Games to boycott it, Psaki replied, "It's not for us to dictate, but it is for us to make sure they're operating with a full sense of the information."

In spite of the diplomatic boycott, the State Department made it clear that it will provide consular and diplomatic Security services to athletes, coaches, trainers, and staff associated with the U.S. Olympic team.

China vowed to retaliate. Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the government would take "resolute countermeasures" if the U.S. insists to boycott.

"The United States should take China's concerns seriously, refrain from politicizing sports, and stop hyping up the so-called 'diplomatic boycott' of the Beijing Winter Olympics, so as to avoid affecting dialogue and cooperation between the two countries in important areas," he said at a daily press briefing.

China's state-media Xin Hua said in a commentary that Washington's latest attempt to politicize the forthcoming global sports event runs counter to the Olympic spirit of uniting rather than dividing. "This blatant political provocation will also risk damaging Sino-U.S. relations", it warned.

A spokesperson of the Chinese UN mission described the diplomatic boycott by the United States as "a self-directed political farce."

China strongly denies U.S. allegation of genocide in its repression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang.

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