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China warns US to 'stop interfering' in next week's Winter Olympics

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy, October 31, 2021. (Reuters photo)

China has warned the United States to "stop interfering" in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing after a handful of other Western countries followed the US to boycott the international sports event. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

“The most urgent priority right now is that the US should stop interfering in the Beijing Winter Olympics," Wang said during the call.

The US and some of its Western allies have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, opting to not send any high-ranking government officials to the Games.

Beijing will be the first city to have hosted both the summer and winter Olympic Games. China's President Xi Jinping had a rare pandemic-era encounter with Olympic International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach this week.

Western countries fear that Beijing could turn next week's sports event into a soft power triumph. But senior officials in Beijing have repeatedly warned against the "politicization" of sport and the IOC has made similar calls to separate sport and politics.

Bach has already said that the Olympics Games will end if the committee abolishes its political neutrality.

During Thursday’s call, the two top diplomats also discussed tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine, with the Chinese foreign minister advising that Russia's security concerns "should be taken seriously."

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

Earlier this month, American and Russian diplomats held talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine but failed to make a breakthrough. However, they agreed to continue the talks.

During talks with the US in Geneva over Ukraine, Russia demanded legally binding guarantees from NATO that it would halt its eastward expansion and return to its 1997 borders. Moscow also demands that the military alliance never admit Ukraine as a member.

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia's main security demands had not been taken into account by Washington.

Tensions have escalated in recent months between Russia and the West. The US and its allies accuse Moscow of planning to invade Ukraine.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman even claims that the attack will take place between now and the middle of February. Moscow denies it has plans to invade its neighbor, but has said that Ukraine's NATO membership is a red line.

Ukraine, the EU, and the US also claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians since 2014. Russia rejects that allegation too.


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