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China says US diplomatic boycott violates Olympic spirit

BEIJING (AP) — China accused the United States of violating the Olympic spirit on Tuesday after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games over human rights concerns.

Rights groups have pushed for a full-blown boycott of the Games, accusing China of rights abuses against ethnic minorities. The U.S. decision falls short of those calls but comes at an exceptionally turbulent time for relations between the powerhouse nations and was met with a barrage of criticism from China.

The U.S. is attempting to interfere with the Beijing Games “out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumors,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters.

The boycott “seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united,'” Zhao said.

As he did the previous day, Zhao vowed that China would respond with “resolute countermeasures” but offered no details.

“The U.S. will pay a price for its practices. You may stay tuned for follow-ups,” Zhao said.

On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration will fully support U.S. athletes competing at the Games but won’t dispatch diplomats or officials to attend.

Psaki said the U.S. has a “fundamental commitment to promoting human rights” and that it “will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”

The diplomatic boycott comes as the U.S. attempts to thread the needle between stabilizing difficult relations with Beijing and maintaining a tough stance on trade and political conflicts. The U.S. has accused China of human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in northwest Xinjiang province, suppressing democratic movements in Hong Kong, committing military aggression against the self-ruled island of Taiwan and more.

Other major countries have yet to say if they will follow the American lead.

Beijing has denounced U.S. criticisms and punitive sanctions as interference in its internal affairs and slapped visa bans on American politicians it regards as anti-China.

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