The Chinese government on Wednesday warned the U.S. that it would respond strongly if Washington boycott's next year's Winter Olympics set to be held in Beijing, AP reports.
Driving the news: The message comes after a State Department spokesman said at a briefing Tuesday that a joint boycott by the U.S. and its allies "is something that we certainly wish to discuss," in response to a question about how to punish China for what observers have described as a genocide against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
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"[W]hat the United States does is meaningful, what the United States does will have impact," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday.
A State Department official later walked the comments back, insisting that "we have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denied abuses against the region's Uyghur population, and promised a “robust Chinese response” against a potential boycott.
“The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” Zhao said. “The international community including the U.S. Olympic Committee will not accept it.”
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