Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong made several interventions during the press conference ©IOC

Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong dismissed claims of human rights violations in Xinjiang as "lies" and insisted Taiwan was part of China during a remarkable daily press conference here today.

At the end of the briefing, Yan confirmed today was the final joint press conference with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - and she made sure she left having made quite an impression. 

The official took the opportunity go on the offensive on a series of controversial issues surrounding the Games having largely been quiet in the early part of the Olympics.

Yan intervened on three occasions following responses to questions on Taiwan and human rights violations of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

Yan, a former member of the Chinese delegation to the UN General Assembly, referred to "so-called forced labour" of Uyghurs in the region in response to one question.

She again intervened when a question was raised regarding the IOC’s position on reports of concentration camps and forced labour in Xinjiang.

"I think these questions are based on lies," Yan said.

"Some authorities have already disputed such false information with a lot of solid evidence.

"You are very welcome to refer to all those evidence and facts."

Allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang have dominated the build-up to the Winter Olympics, with some activists accusing China of committing "genocide" and being unfit to host the Games.

In Xinjiang, China has faced accusations of using forced Uyghur labour, operating a mass surveillance programme, detaining more than one million people in internment camps, carrying out forced sterilisations and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage in the Xinjiang region.

Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong dismissed claims of concentration camps in Xinjiang as
Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong dismissed claims of concentration camps in Xinjiang as "lies" ©Getty Images

The IOC has faced questions over its due diligence to ensure that its Beijing 2022 uniforms were connected to forced labour in Xinjiang.

IOC Presidential spokesperson Mark Adams insisted none of its uniforms were made by workers or from raw materials from the region.

Adams claimed Yan’s view was "not particularly relevant to the press conference or the IOC", insisting the organisation was "very concerned about protecting human rights within our sphere of the Olympic Games".

"We leave it to other organisations, the United Nations, other organisations, to look at other aspects outside of what is happening here," Adams told delegates.

"The Games themselves bring a great deal of benefit to the world in terms of showing how people can work together and bring a shared feeling about what the world could be like.

"There was a UN Resolution supported by all 193 members supporting these Games, we had the UN secretary general at these Games and the President of the UN General Assembly.

"Even administrations around the world who have boycotted these Games politically understand the importance of having ways of reaching out, talking and having areas of cooperation.

"Bringing the world together is even more important at a time like this when there is such dispute and there can be areas of discussion and debate."

UN secretary general António Guterres, following a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the start of the Games, said he expected the High Commissioner for Human Rights will be able to conduct a "credible visit" to Xinjiang.

The IOC has repeatedly insisted the Games should be free from politics, but Yan had earlier intervened regarding a question on Taiwan – who controversially appear at the Olympic Games as Chinese Taipei.

The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) claimed at the start of the Games the IOC had ordered their delegation to appear at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The Taiwanese Government had previously announced that athletes would not be participating in the Ceremonies, citing travel issues and strict COVID-19 countermeasures in place at Beijing 2022.

Yan insisted Taiwan - who feature at Beijing 2022 as Chinese Taipei - are part of one China ©Getty Images
Yan insisted Taiwan - who feature at Beijing 2022 as Chinese Taipei - are part of one China ©Getty Images

China claims Taiwan is a part of its territory with Chinese President Xi Jinping insisting last September that "reunification" with the neighbouring island "must be fulfilled".

This was a claim repeated by Yan at the press conference, highlighting the nation’s "One China" policy.

"I have to take a solemn position," Yan said.

"What I want to say, there is only one China in the world.

"We are always against the idea of politicising the Olympic Games.

"The IOC has 206 members, including Chinese Taipei."

Taiwan is self-ruled and repeatedly vows to defend its democracy amid an increasing threat of invasion by China.

The Ministry of Defence for Taiwan claimed 39 warplanes from China entered the island’s air defence zone on January 23.

Taiwan has full diplomatic relations with 13 UN member states, while Lithuania’s opening of a de facto Embassy in its capital Vilnius last year prompted China to downgrade its relations with the European nation.

Prior to Beijing 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his support of the one-China principle, confirming that, "Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan."

Yan’s interventions at the daily Beijing 2022 press conference will likely increase pressure on the IOC, with the organisation having faced criticism from rights groups.

Several nations have diplomatically boycotted the Winter Olympics, citing China’s treatment of the Uyghur population and foreign policy, including claims on Taiwan, among the reasons for not sending officials to the Games.