Boris Johnson has set out the approach UK ministers will be taking to the controversial Beijing Olympics after being asked about China’s “genocide” of Muslim and religious minorities.
With governments around the world under pressure to take a stance ahead of the start of the Games, Australia and New Zealand have responded to the announcement of a US diplomatic boycott on Monday by revealing that they will be following suit.
In front of a packed house on Wednesday, prime minister Johnson was advised by a Member of Parliament (MP) that the “chaos” of his government – which is currently embroiled in a scandal over an alleged party that took place at the height of the country’s Covid lockdown in 2020 – was a “distraction” from the issue of taking a tough line against China.
“We all know that the Chinese government denies basic human rights to China’s minority religious communities,” he was told.
I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement the UK Govt is imposing a full diplomatic boycott and that UK Ministers/Officials will not be attending the #BeijingWinterOlympics. My congratulations to @ipacglobal who have called for this, I hope many other countries will follow suit
— Iain Duncan Smith MP (@MPIainDS) December 8, 2021
The under-pressure Conservative leader replied: “There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. No ministers are expected to attend.
“We make all those points regularly to the Chinese – and, indeed, I did to [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] when I spoke to him recently.
“I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible, and that remains the policy of the government.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces the UK will implement “a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.” He says no ministers or officials will attend.
He joins leaders of U.S. and Australia in rebuke of China over human rights violations. pic.twitter.com/klcVM9z9J8
— The Recount (@therecount) December 8, 2021
That may be a relief to Team GB athletes ahead of the Games, which are scheduled to take place in February.
Former Tory chief Iain Duncan Smith, who watched on as Johnson spoke, said the prime minister would be “imposing a full diplomatic boycott”, praising the move while congratulating the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China’s campaign for the step to be taken.
Speaking in October, Johnson was told by an MP that women were being raped and sterilized in forced labor camps in China.
that'll teach em
— Zambo (@ailliwre) December 8, 2021
The best rebuke would be not sending athletes.
— Dave (@DavieC726) December 8, 2021
The alleged atrocities are widely considered to be taking place in Xinjiang, in the north-west of China, and affecting Uyghur Muslims.
When he was warned that the alleged acts were a case of “genocide happening in front of our eyes”, Johnson again said that a Team GB boycott would not be the right response.
Johnson described an “apppalling campaign against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang” and said that his foreign minister, Liz Truss, was working to ensure that no British companies were complicit or profiting from activity in the region.
He also pledged that his government would continue to work with the Biden administration and other allies on the issue.