China on Wednesday lambasted the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden for politicizing sports, claiming that the international community will not accept a U.S.-led boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with its allies.
The latest U.S. provocation against China amid growing criticism of its alleged human rights abuses would inflame the already strained tensions between the world's two major powers, as they have been at loggerheads over several matters including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
As Japan, a close U.S. ally and China's neighbor, is scheduled to host this summer's Tokyo Olympics, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may be forced to make a tough decision on whether to skip the Beijing Games with Washington if Biden requests Tokyo to follow suit.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which marks the 100th anniversary of its founding this year, has been apparently keen to use the Olympics for enhancement of national prestige, foreign affairs experts say.
But U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday, in response to a reporter's question, that a potential joint boycott of the event is among the issues the United States hopes to discuss with its allies and partners.
"The international community won't accept it," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
"I would also like to emphasize that politicizing sports is against the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of athletes from all countries and the Olympics," he said.
"We are confident to work with all parties to make the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics an extraordinary and outstanding Olympic event," Zhao added.
The leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping has been accused of mass detention of the nation's Muslim Uyghur minority who oppose growing state surveillance under a "re-education" campaign in the Xinjiang region.
China has consistently said its detention camps are vocational training centers established to combat terrorism and religious extremism preemptively.
Many organizations worldwide, however, have called on the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision to allow Beijing to host the 2022 Games, as the United States has accused China of committing "genocide" in Xinjiang.
Last month, the United States, along with the European Union, Britain and Canada, imposed coordinated sanctions against China over its alleged human rights abuses in the Asian country's far western region.
The U.S. accusation is "the lie of the century," Zhao said, adding, "If the United States turns a blind eye to the facts and the truth and deliberately attacks and discredits China based on such a lie, it will definitely be overturned."
Zhao argued that China has been aware that the Biden administration, which is believed to put emphasis on human rights and democracy issues, has no intention to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
On Tuesday, Price said, "It is something that we certainly wish to discuss and it is certainly something that we understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners."
Later, a senior department official sought to tamp down speculation that the United States has started to consider such a boycott.
"Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners," the official noted.