Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Tension is escalating between British politicians calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and Chinese state media representatives warning of retaliation.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Chinese state tabloid Global Times, said Tuesday on Chinese platform Weibo that any nation boycotting the 2022 Winter Games should be punished with sanctions. He also referred to Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, as a "mentally deranged" person.
"As the hosting nation, to sanction a country ruining the Olympics, China would be doing justice on behalf of the heavens," Hu said.
Hu previously proposed sanctions after senior British politicians proposed British Olympians skip the event next year to protest human rights abuses. Davey had said Chinese sanctions would undermine Beijing's global status after Hu's initial remarks.
The current dispute began after Davey said the British government should act after the BBC reported on systemic rape of ethnic Uighur women in Chinese concentration camps.
"The evidence that a genocide is now occurring in western China is so clear that the United Kingdom and the whole world must now stand up to Beijing and use every available tool to stop it," Davey had said in early February, according to The Guardian.
Hu said Tuesday that politicians who call for a boycott are "evil forces" that must be punished.
"The Chinese people will certainly stand firmly behind the Chinese government and its [potential] sanctions," Hu said. "People of the world will surely support China."
Hu has also opposed a stimulus check plan, but his recent statement is being ridiculed on social media app Clubhouse, where Chinese mainlanders can freely express their opinions through virtual private networks.
Netizens mocked Hu after he had said, "If our country hands out money to everybody, it means it doesn't send out money at all," according to Nikkei Asia on Tuesday.