Emmanuel Macron leading EU against Biden as bloc poised to snub US in China row

China says UK will 'inevitably pay' for olympic boycott

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The French President said on Thursday he would rather work with the International Olympic Committee on the protection of athletes around the world than engage in symbolic boycotts of the China games.

Mr Macron said: “We must not politicise (the Olympics).

“As with all things on the international stage, I prefer to do things that have a useful effect.”

The United States, Australia and Britain are among Western nations that have said they will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in order to send China a message over its human rights record.

The EU’s foreign affairs ministers will discuss the issue at a meeting in Brussels today but they are not expected to agree on following the US.

One EU diplomat told Politico: “We’re not rushing into it.

“I’m not seeing people rushing headlong to get behind the US position.”

China is not worried about a “domino effect” of diplomatic boycotts, it said on Thursday, after Australia, Britain and Canada joined the US in deciding not to send officials to the Games.

The US was the first to announce a boycott saying on Monday its government officials would not attend the February 4-20 Games because of China’s human rights “atrocities” in the western region of Xinjiang.

When asked about the chance of more boycotts, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily news conference: “I don’t see any need to be worried about any domino effect.

“On the contrary, most countries in the world have expressed support for the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

The diplomatic boycotts by the US and its allies follow a sharp deterioration in relations between Beijing and Washington that began under former US President Donald Trump.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained pressure on China over various issues including human rights and China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Wang pointed out that the United Nations on December 2 adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by more than 170 of 193 member states, for an “Olympic Truce” calling on states to rise above politics and unite in sports during the Beijing Games.

“Quite a few” foreign leaders and members of royal families had registered to attend, he said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has publicly accepted an invitation.

Wang said the US and its allies would “pay the price for their mistaken acts” and they had “used the Olympics platform for political manipulation”.

China said on Tuesday it would “resolutely take countermeasures” against the United States for its boycott but has not specified what they would be.

Wang also that China had no plans to invite officials from Britain and Canada to the Games anyway, and that their absence would have “no impact” on the success of the event.

Some experts said China does care about the boycotts, given the time and effort it had devoted to criticising the moves.

Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said: “China had hoped to use this global sporting mega-event to showcase its international standing and expand its influence. The boycotts have certainly dented this hope and resulted in a loss of ‘face’ for China.”

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said earlier that its decision not to send officials was made because of its struggles to reopen diplomatic channels with China to discuss human rights in Xinjiang and Chinese moves to block Australian imports.

China has denied any wrongdoing in Xinjiang, home to the Uyghur Muslim minority, saying allegations of human right abuses were fabricated.

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