Chinese condemn US Olympic ‘boycott’

Chinese government and Olympic authorities have expressed concern over the US boycott of the opening ceremony of this year’s Beijing Games in a state-sanctioned statement, which also warned it “undermines the spirit of the Olympics”.

The Chinese government and Olympic authorities have expressed concern over the US boycott of the opening ceremony of this year’s Beijing Games in a state-sanctioned statement, which also warned it “undermines the spirit of the Olympics”.

In a statement on China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, it was “frank” that it “makes us realise the error of the ‘boycott’ incident and the important principle on mutual respect that the Olympic Games have made.”

The State Council, China’s cabinet, had last week said that it was “surprised and regretful” that countries and organisations would “ignore the solemn history of Olympic sports, disregard the mission of the Olympic Games, and disregard the rationale of the Olympic values”.

In the statement, it calls on Olympic guests to maintain the Olympic spirit and respects everyone’s personal standpoint and opinions.

China has come under increasing pressure in recent days in the aftermath of the International Olympic Committee’s vote to award Beijing the 2008 Games, with a number of members calling for the selection to be reconsidered. In China, prominent writers, artists and basketball players have also voiced their opinion.

In what may signal the start of a diplomatic battle, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice late last week revealed plans to honour the Olympic truce, the informal truce implemented in the lead-up to major sporting events.

“The truce, which must be observed by all parties and which should not be compromised, allows participants to celebrate the event together,” she said at a UN world conference in Geneva.

Rice is the first cabinet-level American official to announce a decision to honour the truce.

“Everyone wants to be at an Olympic Games,” she said, adding that it was important to respect “the sacredness of the Olympic Truce”.

It was part of a series of moves which came following a dispute between China and the US, sparked by US-backed boatbuilder Sun Hung Kai of Taiwan launching a furious attack on Beijing for turning back four US political allies visiting China on second honeymoon.

US officials also condemned China for deporting two members of a US congressional delegation.

Rice’s announcement of support for the Olympic truce comes after it was also formally endorsed by a number of high-ranking world officials.

The Arab League has also thrown its weight behind the truce and Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, said Monday that he would attend the opening ceremony.

US President George W Bush has stressed that the Olympics was a “great event” and meant to unite the world.

After China announced on Sunday that it had received no US request to add images from the US flag-raising in Beijing during the 1976 Olympics to a screening of the opening ceremony on Monday, the White House spokesman, Dana Perino, said Washington stood by its position.

“We believe the one China policy, the policy that we’ve had for 40 years, is the policy that we need to continue to adhere to,” she said.

“We will continue to respect the integrity of the decisions that were made by the IOC.”

In the statement on the foreign ministry website, China noted that the 2008 Olympic Games would “cement the new China”.

“China is not excluded from cultural exchanges and friendly relations with other countries.”

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