Beijing Wednesday described US lawmakers' calls for sponsors to shun the 2022 Winter Olympics on human rights concerns as a "typical American farce", as pressure rises to boycott the controversial Games.
In a lengthy hearing Tuesday, Congress members accused representatives from five major US corporations, including Visa and Airbnb, of supporting alleged genocide and other human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in China‘s Xinjiang region if they continued sponsoring the Beijing event.
In response, Beijing accused US politicians of “politicising sports” and of slandering China based on political prejudice.
“The remarks… are full of arrogance, ignorance and falsehoods. It is a typical American farce, which is unpopular and is doomed to fail,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday.
The testy remarks are the latest in another rocky week for US-China relations.
On Tuesday Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin dismissed Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea during a visit to Singapore, comments which followed tepid high-level talks between Chinese and US officials in Tianjin.
“China firmly opposes any attempt to interfere with, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and holding of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” Zhao said, adding ” which seriously violates the spirit of the Olympic Charter.”
The United States says that Beijing is carrying out genocide against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic people in Xinjiang.
Experts estimate more than one million people have been incarcerated in detention camps.
Beijing denies genocide and has described the camps as vocational training centres, an assertion dismissed by Uyghurs who say they are being forced to renounce religious traditions.
The allegations have spurred a growing chorus for a boycott of the Games from rights activists, the Uyghur diaspora, and even British members of parliament.
A bipartisan group of US House of Representatives members similarly called for a diplomatic boycott of the Games in a proposed bill amendment Tuesday.
Executives from Visa and Airbnb avoided committing to pulling their sponsorship from the Games, while an Intel representative said that sponsorship “does not negate nor does it undermine our commitment to respect human rights.”
President Joe Biden’s administration has so far refused to commit to an official boycott of the Games due to be held in February.
But Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month said Washington was consulting with other allies on a possible common approach to the Games.
The Games are widely viewed as a showpiece event aimed at cementing China’s success in taming the coronavirus and celebrating its achievements shortly after the centenary year of the ruling Communist Party.