China Accuses U.S. of 'Grandstanding' With Expected Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics

A spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of "grandstanding" amid an anticipated diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected this week to announce the partial boycott, which wouldn't bar athletes from competing but would prevent U.S. dignitaries from attending the games.

The U.S. and other nations have long followed a tradition of sending top delegations to every Olympics. First lady Jill Biden, for example, attended the Tokyo Olympics with a group of dignitaries this past summer. Then-President George W. Bush traveled to see the opening of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, AP reported.

But many calling for a boycott have decried China's human rights abuses and crackdown against opposition, alleging that the country is attempting to use the games to boost its global reputation.

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a briefing that a diplomatic boycott would be "outright political provocation" and that it would warrant "firm countermeasures," but he did not specify how China would respond. He also accused the U.S. of politicizing the Olympics in a move that would imbue "a stain on the spirit of the Olympic charter," CNN reported.

"Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic[s], which is purely wishful thinking and grandstanding," Zhao told reporters. "If the U.S. side is bent on going its own way, China will take firm countermeasures."

The U.S. hasn't fully boycotted the Olympics since 1980, when Jimmy Carter was in office, CNN reported. Carter said that he wouldn't send athletes to compete in the Moscow games in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Potential Diplomatic Boycott
China on Monday threatened to take "firm countermeasures" if the U.S. proceeds with a diplomatic boycott of February's Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Above, a visitor to the Shougang Park walks past the a sculpture for the Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, on November 9, 2021. Ng Han Guan/AP Photo

The possibility of a diplomatic boycott comes as the U.S. attempts to stabilize turbulent relations with Beijing, even as it maintains a tough approach toward trade frictions and conflicts over China's actions on Taiwan, human rights, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

Beijing has mounted a stiff response to all U.S. criticisms, denouncing them as interference in its internal affairs and slapping visa bans on American politicians it regards as anti-China.

It wasn't clear who the U.S. might have sent to Beijing for the games and Zhao's comments appeared to indicate that China has not extended any invitations.

Australia, whose ties with China have nosedived over a range of disputes, has also raised the possibility of a diplomatic boycott.

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of “grandstanding” amid an anticipated diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. Above, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing on February 24, 2020. Andy Wong/AP Photo