China warns US to 'stop interfering' in Olympics

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China on Thursday warned the U.S. to "stop interfering" in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Wang said in a statement that he told Blinken, "The most urgent priority right now is that the US should stop interfering in the Beijing Winter Olympics," Agence France-Presse reported.

Beijing will be the first city to have hosted both the summer and winter Olympic Games, and the Chinese government has aimed to use this as a triumph of its power, AFP noted. However, several Western countries including the U.S. have declared China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region to be a genocide.

Last month, the U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, opting to not send any high-ranking government officials to the Games.

During Wang's call with Blinken, they also discussed the ongoing tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine, with the Chinese diplomat advising that Russia's security concerns "should be taken seriously."

Making no mention of the Olympics, the State Department said in a statement that Blinken "underscored the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward."

"All parties should completely abandon the Cold War mentality and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation," Wang said according to AFP.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin may be considering an invasion of Ukraine after the opening ceremony in Beijing.

"We all are aware that the Beijing Olympics begin on Feb. 4, the opening ceremony, and President Putin expects to be there. I think that, probably, [Chinese] President Xi Jinping would not be ecstatic if Putin chose that moment to invade Ukraine, so that may affect his timing and his thinking," Sherman said in a virtual conference.

Putin has expressed his support of China and voiced opposition to the diplomatic boycotts against the Winter Games, telling Russia's Olympic athletes this week, "We stand against the politicization of sport and demonstrative boycotts. We support the traditional Olympic values, above all, equality and fairness."

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