Chinese state media is threatening Western officials and nations with "serious sanctions" should there be any largescale attempt to boycott the China-hosted Winter Olympic games scheduled for 2022.
It comes amid a growing and increasingly growing movement, centered especially out of Canada, which is seeking to do just that. A number of Canadian MPs are currently calling for a boycott based on widespread and persistent reports that Communist authorities in China are carrying out systematic persecution of ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang region.
The movement to hold China to account was picked up in The Guardian late last week, which highlighted the well-organized efforts of over 180 human rights groups that have called for the boycott.
"The coalition of groups – primarily regional associations in support of Tibet, Taiwan, the Uighur community and Hong Kong – said the hopes in 2015 that awarding Beijing the Games would be a catalyst for progress, had faded," The Guardian wrote while citing an 'open letter'.
Advocates of a boycott are angry that China was awarded the 2022 games in the first place. They write in the open letter which is now gaining global traction:
"The IOC [ International Olympic Committee] refused to listen in 2008, defending its decision with claims that they would prove to be a catalyst for improved human rights. As human rights experts predicted, this decision proved to be hugely misplaced; not only did China’s human rights record not improve but violations increased substantially without rebuke."
"Now, in 2021, we find ourselves back in the same position with the IOC who are refusing to act despite the clear evidence of genocide and widespread and worsening human rights failures."
Calls for a boycott prompted a reaction out of the White House, with spokeswoman Jen Psaki days ago saying, "We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics."
However, this didn't satisfy Chinese state media, which is now issuing preemptive threats over the matter.
Boycotting 2022 Beijing Winter Games, an unpopular idea, won’t receive wide support. IOC and athletes will both oppose it, and China will seriously sanction any country that follows such a call. pic.twitter.com/3cOSb2wMdS— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) February 7, 2021
On Sunday prominent state media mouthpiece Hu Xijin, who as the English language Global Times editor often echoes the thinking of government leaders in Beijing, tweeted that "China will seriously sanction any country that follows such a call."
He further called the movement for a boycott "unpopular" and unlikely to gain serious traction; however, given his fierce reaction he no doubt sees it as a significant "threat" to China's prestige and reputation.