The US State Department is up to more of its tricks.
It is no coincidence that reports of an internal request to allow the departure of US diplomats and their families from China have appeared one week before the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Or that the supposed justification for the withdrawal is because China's anti-pandemic policies are "too strict".
The timing of the move exposes the true intentions of the department, which is trying to paint the Games in a bad light and badmouth China's pandemic control policies.
In trying to make trouble for the Games, the US is acting contrary to both the Olympic spirit and the predisposition of the international community to celebrate togetherness at such global events.
The excuse the department has given for the move, that China's anti-pandemic measures are "too strict", does not hold water.
China has long put the COVID-19 pandemic under control and one cannot feel safer elsewhere than in China. In contrast, the US saw 731,361 new infections and 3,908 new deaths on Wednesday. If the US diplomats and their families were to withdraw, they would be going from the safest place in the world to the most dangerous place. That's a laughable move, but one that's not at all funny.
Beijing has promised to the world that it will hold a "simple, safe and splendid" Winter Olympics. Of the three words, "safe" is of special importance considering the Omicron variant of the virus is so highly transmissible and on the rampage in many countries. China is implementing anti-pandemic policies that aim to ensure all participants, the 223 US athletes and officials included, stay safe.
Barbara Gärtner, virology expert for the German Olympic Sports Confederation, for one, endorsed China's efforts, telling the media that the athletes are safer in Beijing than in Germany.
In drafting and implementing its anti-pandemic protocols for the Games, China has fully considered the legitimate rights and interests of the participants, including attending diplomats and dignitaries. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, arrived in Beijing on Jan 22. The leaders of Russia, Poland, Argentina and the five Central Asian states have all announced they will attend the Games, and over 2,800 athletes from around the world, the US included, are arriving in China.
Compared with their enthusiasm for the sports event, the petty tricks of the US pale into insignificance.
On Wednesday, Nicholas Burns, the new US ambassador to China, was sworn into office, which should herald the improvement in Sino-US relations, not the opposite. The US should hold a cooperative attitude toward China's anti-pandemic policies as they benefit all attending the Games, as well as the global fight against the virus.