Joe Biden delivers the last slap in the face of China, a rudeness of those destined to leave its mark over time, making it even more difficult to resume dialogue.
The White House has officially announced that no representative of the US administration will be present at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, paving the way for a mass diplomatic boycott not seen since the Cold War.
The move by the American president, in fact, should open the door to similar decisions by other countries, starting with Australia and the United Kingdom.
Washington's announcement had been in the air for some time, given the pressure from many circles inside and outside Congress to adopt a hard line that would send China a clear message on the front of the defense of human rights in Tibet, in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. In fact, Beijing is accused of stifling the voice of the opponents and of violating the freedoms of religious minorities such as that of the Uighurs, persecuted and subjected to torture and violence.
The latter is a situation that the White House has bluntly defined as "genocide". The response of the Chinese foreign ministry, which has always rejected any intrusion into its internal affairs, had already come before the announcement by the White House, when rumors about an imminent decision were already circulating: "If the United States insists on going on we will certainly take resolute countermeasures. The Winter Olympics cannot be the stage for a political provocation, "said spokesman Zaho Lijian:" It would be a serious stain on the spirit of the Olympic Charter and a serious offense for one and a half billion Chinese ". As symbolic, therefore,the decision of the diplomatic boycott risks being the tombstone on the attempted thaw launched two weeks ago during the virtual summit between Biden and Xi Jinping, with the aim of restoring relations between the two economic and military superpowers on tracks that avoid a conflict.
The US no to the Beijing Olympics, while safeguarding the participation of American athletes, would in fact add to the tensions linked to the Taiwan issue. With the latter, unlike China, invited to the Conference for Democracy convened by Biden for the next few days. To definitively tip the scales for the diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 would have been the story of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from the public scene for three weeks after denouncing sexual harassment by a former senior Communist Party official. A story that has shaken American public opinion.
It matters little if Biden's decision to desert Beijing 2022 is destined to create further friction with the International Olympic Committee, which is opposed to any form of boycott but in turn accused by Washington of being too compliant with the Chinese authorities.
To return to situations of Olympic boycott we must go back to 1980, when Jimmy Carter's administration led over 60 countries that did not participate in the Moscow Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In retaliation four years later, fifteen countries along with the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games.