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Weeks after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, China reported that it received multiple visa applications from U.S. officials expected to attend the Games. 

Bloomberg reports Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular press meeting on Monday that China received three-month visa applications from the State Department and other government departments. 

“Previously out of political manipulation, the U.S. without any invitation has put on a show of so-called not sending diplomats or officials to the Beijing 2022 Games,” Zhao said

According to China’s state-run tabloid Global Times, a total of 18 personnel, including 15 personnel working for the State Department, have applied for visas to attend the Games. 

Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper South China Morning Post quoted “two sources and a document” as saying, “Of the 18 names on the list, 15 of the U.S. personnel work for the State Department and one works for the Pentagon,” and “The U.S. indicated to Chinese officials it might submit applications for 40 more officials in the coming months.”

The move is in sharp contrast from the Biden administration’s diplomatic boycott announcement on Dec. 6, which criticized Beijing for torturing Uyghurs in Xinjiang camps. “We are determined to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy, and we reaffirm this commitment by using appropriate tools and authorities to draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses, no matter where they occur,” U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said at the time. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the U.S.’ double-faced move would embarrass its allies and show growing divergences within the Biden administration about China. 

Haidong pointed out the Biden administration is entangled in confusion when managing issues related to China. 

Meanwhile, U.S. allies, such as Britain, Lithuania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, will be caught off guard by the new announcement because they also declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

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