China has never had a better human rights record and Canada and other countries must stop politicizing sports through an Olympic boycott that could lead to “self-inflicted humiliation”, Chinese ambassadors have warned.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Tuesday that his country would become the latest nation to observe a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which are scheduled to take place in Beijing in February.
Speaking on Parliament Hill, Trudeau accused China of “repeated human rights violations” over its alleged mistreatment of around a million Uyghur Muslims, which is widely thought to include forced labor and sterilization.
Trudeau said he expected the move to be of no surprise to China. “For months, we have been co-ordinating and discussing the issue with our allies,” he added.
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) December 8, 2021
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly admitted that she had initiated discussions on a boycott in almost every meeting she has held since taking up her role in October.
Joly will press France – which said on Wednesday that it would not follow suit – and Germany to join the boycott, which gained its most powerful participant when the Biden administration announced on Monday that it would be shunning the Games.
“Clearly, it is important for us to send a strong signal to China because we’re extremely concerned about allegations about the Uyghurs,” explained Joly.
“Canada has been playing a leadership role on this — this is in line with our foreign policy. Canada always stands up on questions of human rights.”
The Chinese Embassy in Canada responded by calling Trudeau’s claims false, describing the accusations as “groundless” and voicing its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to the move.
Applaud PM Trudeau’s decision that Canada would join a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. The CCP’s genocide of the Uyghurs is reprehensible & never again should a nation which so blatantly violates the human rights of its own citizens get the honor of hosting the Olympics. https://t.co/f8tcZ3qVSk
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) December 9, 2021
In a statement, the embassy said it had “lodged stern representations with the Canadian side.”
“Based on ideological biases as well as lies and rumors, Canada and a handful of western countries have been flagrantly engaged in political maneuvering, with the attempt to disrupt the smooth progress of [the] Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” it thundered.
“Their clumsy performance can hardly find any support and is doomed to fail. The Chinese people are in the best position to judge how China’s human situation is.
“Now, China’s human rights situation is at its historical best – a fact that is recognized by all those without bias. Canada, by contrast, has committed heinous crimes against indigenous people.
“Until today, systematic racial discrimination is still severe in Canada. Canada is simply not qualified to be ‘a human rights preacher’ and is certainly in no position to judge China on this front.”
— ChineseEmbassyOttawa (@ChinaEmbOttawa) December 9, 2021
The announcement pointed the finger at Canada for “gravely violating the principle of political neutrality enshrined in the Olympic Charter”.
As was the case when Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed his country’s boycott, the embassy claimed that Canada had not received the kind of invitation that Russian president Vladimir Putin has been given to attend the games.
“Today, in the 21st century, peace, development and win-win co-operation is the trend of the times and the shared aspiration of all countries,” it hypothesized, positioning Canada as being on the “opposite” side of that theory.
“Clinging to Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, Canada and a handful of western countries interfere in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of human rights in an attempt to disrupt and contain their development process.
“This is firmly opposed not only by the Chinese people, but also by all people that love peace and uphold justice in the world.
The #US should follow the #Olympic spirit of “together” and stop politicizing sports and the diplomatic boycott of #Beijing2022, lest it would affect China-US dialogue and cooperation on key areas. #China will take resolute countermeasures if the US is bent on the wrong decision. pic.twitter.com/xnDBIDzGer
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) December 6, 2021
“Canada must stop politicizing sports, stop disrupting and undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics immediately, lest it should lead to self-inflicted humiliation.”
Trudeau and the embassy do appear to have common ground on wanting the Games to be a success that is focused on sporting excellence.
“We firmly believe that, under the guidance of the Olympic spirit and with concerted efforts of all sides, we will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games for the world,” said the embassy.
Trudeau said that a sporting boycott would not be held. “They need to have one thing in mind,” he said of Canadian athletes heading to the showpiece.
“That’s representing the country to the best of their ability and winning a gold medal for Canada.”