China on Monday slammed US-based media for trying to smear the relationship between Beijing and Russia after a reputed publication claimed in an article that China had asked Moscow “not to invade Ukraine” during the Winter Olympics. Speaking at a routine press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian refuted the statements made in the report, saying that it was a “despicable and futile” trick to “drive a wedge” between Moscow and Beijing. Lijian also lambasted US media for creating news “out of thin air.”
“I want to stress that today’s China-Russia relations are mature, stable and resilient. The two sides have maintained close communication and all levels. Any attempt to drive a wedge between the two countries or challenge mutual trust is futile. Such despicable trick cannot full the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday, as quoted by The Global Times.
Lijian also blasted the publication indirectly for slandering and said that such reports not only provoke tensions between China and Russia but also interfere with and sabotage the international platform of the Beijing Winter Olympics. In addition, Moscow also called the report “fake” with Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova adding that it was a part of the US’ “special informational operations of corresponding American services.” To note, the article published earlier this week claimed that China had called Russia allegedly requesting the latter from invading Ukraine during the Olympic games.
China warns athletes of “punishment” for advocating human rights
Lijian, during his speech on Monday, said that Beijing is aimed at presenting a “streamlined safe and splendid Olympic Games.” However, his assertions came just days after China launched veiled threats to national and foreign Olympians against criticism of Beijing authorities. “Any behaviour or speeches that are against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations are also subject to certain punishment,” Yang Shu, Beijing 2022 International Relations Department Deputy Director-General said last Tuesday.
Notably, the Winter Olympics is set to open on February 4 against a backdrop of a myriad of controversies. Several Western countries, including Australia and Canada led by the US, have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, citing human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Hong Kong and more. In addition, China’s repressive measures under the zero-COVID approach have also drawn severe criticisms due to their intensity and impact on commoners.