Beijing hopes to turn next week's Games into a soft power triumph, but the lead-up has been clouded by a US-led diplomatic boycott over China's human rights record.

The US has said it will not send dignitaries to the Games, in protest over China's human rights record.
The US has said it will not send dignitaries to the Games, in protest over China's human rights record. (AP)

China is demanding the US end “interference” in the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin next week, in an apparent reference to a diplomatic boycott imposed by Washington and some of its allies.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the demand in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday Beijing time, according to a news release posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

The US has said it will not send dignitaries to the Games, which open February 4, in a protest over China’s crackdowns on human rights.

The boycott does not prevent US athletes from taking part in the Games, which are being held under strict anti-pandemic restrictions.

China has also protested what it says are calls within the State Department to withdraw staff and their dependents from the embassy and consulates around China over the tightening rules.

The news release said Wang also called for an end to US support for self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

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Confrontational relationship

Foreign Minister Wang also complained that the US hasn't altered tough political and economic policies toward China under the administration of President Joe Biden, despite its expressed wishes for a less confrontational relationship.

A brief statement from the State Department said that Blinken and Wang exchanged views on how to manage strategic risk, health security and climate change. It did not mention the Olympics or Taiwan.

Blinken underscored the economic and security risks posed by Russian aggression against Ukraine, the statement said.

The phone call follows the appointment of veteran diplomat Nicholas Burns as the new US ambassador to China, a position that has remained empty for more than a year.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies