Unot a question of diplomacy, not of sport. After the United States and Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada have decided to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics. A so-called “diplomatic” boycott, which represents a new setback for the Chinese regime, accused by the West of trampling on human rights. Asked Wednesday, December 8 during the weekly question-and-answer session in front of Parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there would be “indeed a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics”. British athletes will go to the Olympics which start on February 4, he continued, stressing that the sports boycott is “not the policy of the United Kingdom”.
Justin Trudeau also made a statement Wednesday night. “We are deeply disturbed by the human rights violations by the Chinese government,” the Canadian Prime Minister said at a press conference.
There are many sources of tension between London and Beijing, between respect for human rights in Xinjiang, decline in freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong and the exclusion of the Chinese giant Huawei in British 5G infrastructures. In front of British deputies, Boris Johnson assured that he regularly raised with the Chinese regime the question of human rights, at the heart of the decision of Western countries. If China has not yet reacted to the British announcement, the decision of the United States has aroused the anger of Beijing, that of Canberra, contempt.
The United States will “pay”
In explaining its decision, Australia cited the issue of human rights in Xinjiang, but other disputes exist between Canberra and Beijing, ranging from the issue of Australia’s foreign interference laws to the recent decision to acquire nuclear powered submarines. “Australia will not reverse the steadfast position it has taken to defend its interests, and it is of course no surprise that we do not send Australian officials to these Games,” Prime Minister Scott said. Morrison.
Asked during a press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese diplomacy spokesman Wang Wenbin said his country had never intended to invite senior Australian officials. “Everyone does not care whether they come or not,” he said. “Their political politics and their little games will not change the success of the Olympic Games. “
The Canberra decision “shows for all to see that the Australian government is blindly following in the footsteps of a certain country,” said Wang Wenbin, without naming the United States. Washington announced at the beginning of the week a “diplomatic boycott” in the name of the defense of human rights. Beijing retorted that “the United States will pay the price for its bad thing.” Reacting to the Australian decision, Sophie Richardson, director of Human Rights Watch in China, hailed a “crucial step towards challenging the crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese government against Uighurs and other Turkish communities “.
China very irritated by Australia’s decision
According to human rights organizations, at least one million Uighurs and other Turkish-speaking minorities, mainly Muslims, are being held in camps in Xinjiang. China is accused of forcibly sterilizing women there and imposing forced labor. Beijing says the camps are in fact vocational training centers to fight radicalization.
Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years. China has taken a series of sanctions on Australian goods amid a political conflict that has plunged bilateral relations into their most serious crisis since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square (1989). China was particularly irritated by the ban on granting 5G contracts to Huawei, and the request for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia’s decision to outfit its navy with nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new defense pact with Britain and the United States, widely seen as an attempt to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific region, also aroused the ire of Beijing.