Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

China Fires Back at U.S. Diplomatic Boycott of Olympic Games: ‘Chinese Are Relieved’

Beijing’s state media on Monday used the punitive measure from the White House to spread conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Paul D. Shinkman

China on Monday blasted the Biden administration’s decision to enact a “diplomatic boycott” on the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing and used it to further its own conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus.

“To be honest, Chinese are relieved to hear the news,” the Global Times wrote on Twitter, “because the fewer US officials come, the fewer viruses will be brought in.”

The Global Times is considered a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.

The reaction came moments after the White House confirmed that no U.S. officials would attend the 2022 Olympic or Paralympic games, to begin in February. President Joe Biden first stated publicly in November he was considering the punitive measure, which stops short of the kind of full boycott last employed by the U.S. in 1980 against Moscow.

The latest decision follows U.S. concerns about Chinese humanitarian abuses against Uighur Muslims in its restive Xinjiang Province, combined with its heightened military campaign targeting Taiwan in recent months – one it claims solely responds to American military aggression in and around the region.

“Only super narcissistic people will regard their absence as a powerful boycott,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, wrote on Twitter moments later. “Most of those US govt officials are close contacts of the COVID-19 patients according to China’s standard, moreover picky and pretentious. You are the people that Beijing residents least want to see.”

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, said moments after the White House’s announcement that the U.S. is flattering itself by claiming it is boycotting the games, indicating China hadn’t invited these officials to attend, according to another Chinese state media outlet, CGTN news. Beijing had previously touted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s personal invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin – a sign of growing relations between the two Eastern powers.

A variety of U.S. lawmakers and other leaders have called for a boycott, chiefly conservatives and other so-called China hawks intent on punishing Beijing for issues it considers domestic matters of no international concern. The partial measure serves as a way to challenge China without punishing American athletes who wish to compete.

On Monday, leaders from both political parties immediately praised Biden’s decision to punish the Chinese Communist Party.

“I’m glad the Biden Administration has finally decided they will not send officials to the Beijing games, which has been the obvious choice for some time. But we must do more to protect Olympians and deny the propaganda value of this event for the CCP,” Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, top Republican on the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

He called on the Biden administration to do more to push the International Olympic Committee and the government in Beijing to account for China’s human rights record.

“These Olympics are a key opportunity for the CCP to normalize their human rights atrocities – including genocide – and the free world must unite to reject them,” McCaul said.

“With the PRC engaged in a genocide in Xinjiang, this is absolutely the right decision,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, Georgia Democrat and chairman of the committee, said in a separate statement, using an abbreviation for the formal name of the country, the People’s Republic of China. “With the United States now leading by taking a clear stand, I am calling on other countries to join in refusing to send official delegations to the Olympics. We need to speak with one voice and make clear that silence is not an option when any country, no matter how powerful, grossly undermines universal human rights.”

Concerns of the coronavirus pandemic have also played into new considerations about whether the U.S. should send athletes and whether the government in China can keep them safe.

Beijing’s various media outlets have previously attempted to spread rumors that the virus – believed to have originated in Wuhan Province – in fact came from the U.S., perhaps even as a military-produced biological weapon. The Chinese Communist Party has previously claimed a visiting U.S. soldier initially introduced the coronavirus to China.

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