China Media Pundit Says He Hopes Joe Biden Lives to See LA Olympics Boycott

The United States' diplomatic boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing continues to trigger strong yet mixed reactions from China.

One diplomat mocked the decision by posting a photograph of the deadly Surfside condominium collapse in Florida, while a state media pundit said he hoped that President Joe Biden, who is 79, would live long enough to see China boycott the Los Angeles Summer Games in 2028.

The official line out of Beijing is that it couldn't care less whether American government officials attend the Games in February. But these comments tell a different story.

On Tuesday, a day after the White House confirmed that no officials would be present at Beijing 2022, Zhang Heqing, cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, tweeted: "Are the U.S politicians worried about NOT [being] invited to Beijing Winter Olympics? Thus they are flattering themselves by announcing a 'diplomatic boycott' to it?"

His Twitter post included three photos of preparations for China's Winter Games and a fourth showing rescue workers standing in the rubble of the Surfside apartment building. The image was taken by Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert on June 25, a day after the collapse that claimed 98 lives.

The disaster in Surfside has been the subject of Chinese government ridicule before. In July, senior officials including Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian—assistant foreign minister and foreign ministry spokesperson, respectively—mocked the decision to demolish the partially collapsed condo ahead of hurricane season. They said the U.S. had given up the search for missing victims.

Also on Tuesday, the EU bureau chief of state newspaper China Daily, Chen Weihua, appeared to poke fun at the president's age. Responding to news about the boycott, Chen tweeted: "You're not invited and not welcome, Mr Biden. Hope you will live long enough to see China boycotting Los Angeles Summer Games in 2028."

Immediately after the Biden administration's announcement on Monday, the editor of China's Global Times, Hu Xijin wrote: "Only super narcissistic people will regard their absence as a powerful boycott."

The Chinese government's latest line is that the U.S. can't boycott Beijing 2022 because it wasn't invited. Hua, the assistant foreign minister, tweeted on Tuesday: "The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is a party 'by invitation only.' Some US politicians need not flatter themselves by 'weaponizing' their attendance. One can't decline an invitation without first receiving one."

This messaging contradicted an earlier line by ministry spokesperson Zhao, who said foreign dignitaries were invited by each country's National Olympic Committee. In other words, it is not in the gift of the Beijing government to extend invitations to the Games.

In response to a question about Australia's diplomatic boycott on Wednesday, Zhao's colleague, Wang Wenbin, told reporters at a regular press briefing that "no one cares" whether its officials attend the Winter Games.

Later, however, Wang said of Washington's boycott: "The U.S. will pay a price for its wrongdoing. Wait and see."

China Fires Back After Joe Biden's Boycott
Left: The logo of the Beijing Winter Olympics is displayed outside the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on April 9. Right: President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on December 6. Lintao Zhang, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images