China's statement comes after US, Australia, Britain and Canada announced diplomatic boycotts against the 2022 Winter Olympics, citing alleged widespread rights abuses by China.

The boycott stopped short of not sending athletes but still angered Beijing, which hinted at retaliation.
The boycott stopped short of not sending athletes but still angered Beijing, which hinted at retaliation. (Reuters)

China has warned Western nations they would "pay the price" for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

"The US, Australia, Britain and Canada's use of the Olympic platform for political manipulation is unpopular and self-isolating, and they will inevitably pay the price for their wrongdoing," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.

Washington announced its boycott earlier in the week, saying it was prompted by widespread rights abuses by China and what it sees as a "genocide" against the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Australia, Britain and Canada followed suit on Wednesday.

The boycott stopped short of not sending athletes but nonetheless infuriated Beijing, which hinted at retaliation.

Advocacy groups have backed the boycott, with Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson calling it a "crucial step toward challenging the Chinese government's crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities".

READ MORE: China: US diplomatic boycott violates Olympic spirit

Tense relations 

All four of the boycotting Western countries have seen relations with Beijing cool dramatically in recent years.

Britain has criticised China for its crackdown in Hong Kong. It also angered Beijing last year by blocking Chinese tech giant Huawei's involvement in its 5G broadband rollout, after Washington raised spying concerns.

Canada's relations with China meanwhile hit a low over the December 2018 arrest in Vancouver on a US warrant of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and Beijing's detention of two Canadian nationals in response.

China has been angered at Australia's willingness to legislate against overseas influence operations, its barring of Huawei from 5G contracts, and its call for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia's recent move to equip its navy with nuclear-powered submarines under a new defence pact with Britain and the United States, widely seen as an attempt to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific region, further angered Beijing.

France will not boycott the Beijing Olympics, French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said, adding "sports is a world in itself, which must be protected from political interference, otherwise ... we can end up by killing the competition".

READ MORE: Australia joins US in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Source: AFP