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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Hints At Boycott Of Atlanta Olympics

BEIJING -- China warned Friday that a U.S. invitation to senior Taiwan officials to attend the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games would draw a "strong response" from Beijing -- but it stopped short of explicitly threatening a boycott.

Taipei Olympic Committee officials were welcome to attend the games but an invitation to senior government officials of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a rebel province, was not acceptable, a spokesman for the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission said.

"The Taipei Olympic Committee is a member of the International Olympic Committee," he said. "Of course they can attend the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta as an area delegation.

"What we are against is senior Taiwan officials trying to use the games for political purposes," he said.

"If the U.S. government allows top Taiwan officials to go to the Atlanta Olympic Games, China will make a strong response."

He declined to say what that response might be.

If China stays home, it would mar the 1996 Games' perfect-attendance plans. For the first time ever, all 197 countries invited to the Games had accepted invitations.

Bob Brennan, a spokesman for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, declined to comment Friday on the possibility of a Chinese boycott. He said the issue belongs in the International Olympic Committee.

Sports Commission Minister Wu Shaozu, who also heads China's Olympic Committee, was quoted by a Japanese news agency as warning that if Taiwan officials went to Atlanta "things would be much worse" than China's near-boycott of the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima over the same issue.

In 1994 China prevented Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui from attending the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in Hiroshima by threatening to boycott the event.

"If something similar happens in Atlanta, things will get much worse than Hiroshima," Kyodo news agency quoted Wu as saying in Harbin in northeast China, where the Winter Asian Games are under way.