Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom are also not sending a political delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics. They join the diplomatic boycott that the United States has called for. In this way, the four countries say they are sending a powerful signal against human rights violations in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
The boycott only relates to government officials: athletes from the countries concerned will soon be present at the Games.
The Chinese authorities are speaking in a response from a smear campaign. “The Winter Games in Beijing are a gathering of athletes and sports enthusiasts worldwide, not a tool for political manipulation,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom.
Beijing has always firmly denied that the Uyghurs are being suppressed in Xinjiang. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stresses that the West has been worrying about the human rights violations of this Muslim minority for years. That is why China should “not be surprised that we decide not to send a diplomatic mission,” says Trudeau.
The relations between Canada and China have been tense for years, especially since the arrest in 2018 of a Huawei top woman, who has since been released. Australia is also diplomatically at odds with Beijing. After the Australian government called for an independent investigation into the origins of covid-19, Beijing instituted trade restrictions.
When Prime Minister Morrison of Australia announced the boycott, he added that China has recently stopped responding to criticism about the situation in Xinjiang, among other things. Beijing rejected the Australians move. “Whether they come or not, no one cares about that,” commented a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The UN and aid organizations estimate that more than one million Uyghurs are being held in criminal camps. According to China, it is about “training centers”, but several countries have labeled the treatment of the ethnic minority as genocide. A majority of the House of Representatives in the Netherlands has also done so.
The Netherlands has not yet decided whether to send a delegation to the opening ceremony on 4 February. King Willem-Alexander is not there in Beijing anyway. That decision had been made a long time ago due to the corona crisis and not as part of the boycott, said outgoing minister Ben Knapen of Foreign Affairs.