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Xi Jinping wants to invite US president to Beijing Winter Olympics

Diplomats say Xi may not even attend himself if Western leaders are no show

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Staff members wear face masks to protect against COVID-19 during a test event for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Staff members wear face masks to protect against COVID-19 during a test event for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) is expected to invite U.S. President Joe Biden to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February during an upcoming virtual summit, two people with insider knowledge told the press.

If extended, the invitation will test Biden by forcing him to choose between declining and damaging bilateral relations further, or accepting and undermining his stance on democracy and human rights, according to a CNBC report.

Asked how Biden may respond, the White House and National Security Council declined to comment.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations are deliberating over a potential “diplomatic boycott” of the event. In practice, this would allow athletes to compete as usual, but bar national leaders from attending, according to two Western diplomats.

It is rumored that Xi himself may not turn up to the event if Western leaders do not show up, the diplomats said. He would likely excuse himself citing COVID-19 risks, they added.

Human rights activists are calling for more — a global boycott of what they call the “Genocide Games.” Groups are pressuring the International Olympic Committee to either postpone or relocate the sporting event due to China’s human rights abuses against its ethnic Uyghur minority.

Though the U.S. State Department expressed interest in a boycott of some kind earlier in the year, it has not announced an official decision on the matter as yet. The summit between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies could happen as soon as next week, according to sources.


Updated : 2022-01-20 05:06 GMT+08:00

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