China has condemned a planned US diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and threatened to retaliate.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China would take “resolute countermeasures”, but did not give further details.
On Monday, the US said it would not send diplomats to Beijing over concerns about China’s human rights record.
It added that US athletes could go and would have full government support.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Zhao accused the US of violating “political neutrality in sport” and said the proposed boycott was “based on lies and rumors”.
Tensions are high between both countries. The US has accused China of genocide in its repression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang – an allegation China has strongly denied.
High-level government representatives – from the US and other countries – are usually present at Olympic Games. Earlier this year, First Lady Jill Biden led the US delegation at the summer Olympics held in Tokyo.
But on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US would not contribute to the “fanfare” of the Olympics. She said not sending an official delegation to the 2022 Games “could send a clear message”.
“US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of… egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang,” she said. “We simply can’t do that.”
However, Ms. Psaki added the US government did not feel it was right “to penalize athletes who had been training for this moment”.
On Chinese social media platform Weibo, the search topic “US diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics” was censored as of Tuesday morning.
Most of the comments below a post on the announcement by state media outlet Global Times were also deleted, leaving only eight out of close to 1,500 comments untouched.
“The Olympics are for athletes, what does it have to do with… politicians? Even if you boycott, the only people you’re hurting are your own countrymen (including athletes),” one such comment read.