The UK and Australia will not send their political representatives to the Beijing Winter Olympics. This Wednesday the British Prime Minister, Boris johnson, and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, They announced that they were joining a diplomatic boycott of the United States alleging human rights violations by China. In neither case does the diplomatic boycott affect sports contests or prevent the participation of British, American or Australian athletes.
“As I have said before, we do not support sports boycotts, but there are no plans for … ministers to attend the Winter Olympics,” Johnson said in the British Parliament. “There will be a diplomatic boycott,” stressed the British prime minister.
Earlier, the Australian government said it was also joining the boycott. Like Washington, Morrison too cited human rights violations in China to justify its decision, especially in the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, in northwestern China, where Islamist separatist groups operate.
According to human rights activists and various governments, up to 1 million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minority people are imprisoned or “in re-education camps” in Xinjiang, subjected to forced work and sterilization. China regards such Western claims as the “lie of the century”. Also, Morrison mentioned a series of disagreements that his country maintains with the Asian giant.
In this regard, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang wenbin He expressed at a press conference that “nobody cares whether (Australians) come or not.” In addition, he assured that China never intended to invite Australian authorities. “His political maneuvers and his little tricks will not change anything to the success of the Olympic Games,” he added. Australia’s decision “shows in the eyes of all that the Australian government is blindly following the line of one country,” Wang snapped without mentioning the United States.
Two days earlier, Washington had announced that it will not send diplomatic representatives – although it will send its athletes – due to what it described as human rights violations committed by China. Being present, “the US diplomatic representation would treat these Games as if nothing had happened, despite the flagrant violations of human rights and the atrocities of China in Xinjiang. And we cannot do that,” he said. Jen psaki, spokeswoman for the US president Joe biden . “The athletes of Team USA have our full support. We will be 100% behind them as we cheer them on from here,” he said.
Response from China
The US decision sparked outrage in Beijing. “The attempt by the United States to interfere in the Winter Olympics due to its ideological bias, based on lies and rumors, only reveals its harmful intentions,” he said Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of China, last Tuesday. “The United States will pay the price for its tricks.”
Like the United States, the Australian Olympic Committee indicated that the diplomatic boycott would not affect the preparation of its athletes and assured that its priority was to ensure a “safe trip to China due to the complexity of the coronavirus.” A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Australia noted that athletes from that country would be welcome to the Games and wished them an “excellent performance.”
Tension with Australia
In the last two years, China introduced a series of sanctions on the import of Australian goods amid an acute political dispute that has frozen ministerial contacts between the two countries.
Australia, for its part, seeks to legislate against foreign influence to veto Chinese phone company Huawei in 5G contracts and, in tune with Washington, called for an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, it recently signed an important military alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom that will provide it with US nuclear-powered submarines, after having canceled its contract with France, which caused discomfort with its former European partner.