US told to ‘stop interfering’ in Beijing Olympics
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington should stop interfering in the Beijing Olympics.
“The most urgent priority right now is that the US should stop interfering in the Beijing Winter Olympics and stop playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan,” Wang said in a phone call with his American counterpart on Tuesday, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Wang also shared his thoughts on the current Russia-NATO tensions regarding Ukraine and wider security in Europe. “All parties should completely abandon the Cold War mentality and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation,” he said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price released a brief statement, saying that Blinken “underscored the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward.” Price did not mention the Winter Olympics, set for a kickoff in Beijing on February 4.
The US and several other Western countries have refused to send officials to the games, due to China’s alleged human rights violations. Athletes from the West, including a team from the US, will participate in the Olympics.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has argued that diplomatic boycotts were “violating political neutrality of sport.” On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian thanked Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez for his decision to attend the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing.
The US Embassy in Beijing asked the State Department to allow some diplomats and their families to leave the country due to harsh anti-Covid measures implemented by the Chinese government, according to sources cited by Reuters this week. The State Department refused to confirm the story.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, nevertheless, said the decision to remove diplomatic personnel and their relatives would be “confusing and hardly justifiable.”
“China is undoubtedly the safest country at present. Evacuating from the safest place in the world will only expose US personnel to much greater risks of infection,” Zhao told reporters on Wednesday.