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Polish President Bucks Olympic Boycott, Meets with President Xi Jinping

While the other European leaders are boycotting the Olympics taking place in Beijing, Polish President Andrzej Duda attended the initial days of the event and used it as an opportunity for diplomacy with China. 

Duda was the only EU elected leader to visit the Chinese capital for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. He attended other events over the weekend, as well.

On Sunday, February 6th, he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Euractiv reports.

Among the topics the two leaders discussed were bilateral trade and investments. Duda also took the opportunity to inform the Chinese President about the European view of the situation along the Russia-Ukraine border.

“The aim was to inform China about the current situation from the perspective of the European countries, NATO countries, since the Chinese President probably has the information from the other side,” said Andrzej Dera, Polish Secretary of State. “China is a great power, and they should know what is going on.”

Many other countries decided to boycott the event as a demonstration of their condemnation of alleged serious human rights violations against Uyghurs and Tibetians, and so few top politicians attended the opening ceremony of 2022 Olympic Games. Leaders from Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates were among the 22 countries that sent political representatives to Beijing. UN Secretary General António Gutteres also attended.

Some Polish diplomats voiced concerns that Duda’s presence in China could harm Polish interest as well as the president’s own reputation. 

“Because we have numerous Western allies, I think it would have been appropriate of the President not to visit China,” Ryszard Schnepf, former Deputy Foreign Minister and Poland’s ambassador told the media.

Duda also celebrated his country’s first Olympic medal win on Sunday at the  Zhangjiakou ski complex, where ski jumper Dawid Kubacki stood on the podium for Poland.

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.

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