Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has stated that he is considering boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Raab said that it is his policy to distinguish sports from diplomacy and politics. But, according to his opinion, China has reached a state which is making that increasingly difficult.
He criticised China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, with accusations of genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced labour and even sterilisation of women.
An alliance of 39 countries has pointed out at the UN that China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims is atrocious, to say the least. They demanded an independent inquiry into what is happening inside “re-education” centres at Xinjiang, where almost 100,000 Uighurs have been forcefully detained. Germany brought up this motion of inquiry. The UK supported Germany immediately.
The 39- country joint statement addresses the increasing number of gross human rights violations committed by the Chinese movement. According to the statement, China is repressing the Uyghur culture with restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
A similar issue was raised in June, concerning China’s treatment of protesters in Hong Kong. The accusations included forced deportation to the Chinese mainland, interrogation under torture, and violation of human rights. It did not gain as much support as the Uyghur issue.
However, since the discussion of the Hong Kong issue in June, the Western alliance against China has grown steadily. Several countries joined the alliance, including Bosnia, Spain, Italy and England. In the foreign affairs select committee, Raab said that the treatment of the Uighurs should be considered as genocide and destruction of a minority community.
Raab stated further, “The more we see of the evidence and the more the international community addresses its mind to it, the more I think we do need to think very carefully at what action we take.”
Robert O’Brien, the US national security officer has also remarked on October 16 that “something close to” a genocide is going on with China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
China, of course, refuted these claims. Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said that such allegations were baseless, and any attempt to interfere in internal affairs is not desired.
In the UN, Pakistan has presented a statement on behalf of 55 countries. This statement defended China, arguing that China’s actions at Xinjiang and Hong Kong are its “internal affairs” and should not be interfered with,
Cuba passed a similar statement, pointing it out that China’s measures at Xinjiang are necessary to counter terrorism and regulate religious fundamentalism. A group of African and Arab countries, Russia and Venezuela also supported China.
Raab has attributed this huge support base of almost 70 countries to China’s massive economic and political upper-hand all over the world. According to him, this monetary influence is stopping countries from speaking out their mind freely.
China indeed has thrown money around the world, for development projects in countries which include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Malaysia, Laos, Mongolia, Kenya and South Africa.
The Chinese money in these countries has funded infrastructures like bridges, skyscrapers, schools and hospitals. These nations, now reeling under Chinese debt, have little say against China. The same China that prides itself on its Communist ideology, the ideology that believes in equal distribution of wealth and power, is now creating an empire, based on the very tools of capitalism.
The world, where half the essential commodities are already “made in China,” might soon be controlled by China if it continues to expand its “Money-trap.”
Raab has hinted that Britain could boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games over “egregious” Uighur abuse. He stated that Britain should consider its participation in the 2022 Olympics very carefully. The Duke of Cambridge’s presence at the Olympics is also something to be taken into consideration, according to Raab.
Australian sports minister Richard Colbeck has been indifferent to the calls to boycott the Olympics. He said that the Australian government will not force athletes to abandon the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic games.
Some countries which might respond to the call are the USA, Canada and Germany. Whether boycotting the Olympics is viable or not remains a topic heavily debated. Since China has a large number of countries in its support, a boycott might be redundant. However, many opine that it would send a strong message.
Olympics has rarely ever been politicised, but it has been used as a platform during the most tumultuous times in world history. The Berlin Olympics of 1936 had allowed an anti-Semite, dictatorial rule to gather the world’s attention.
Later, Germany and Japan were excluded from the London Olympics for starting World War II. Later, the awarding of the Summer Olympics 1964 in Tokyo and Munich in 1972 signified that Germany and Japan were a part of the democratic West once more. The US boycotted the Soviet Olympics in 1980. Soviet retaliated by boycotting the Olympics in Los Angeles.
The Beijing Olympics is already a topic of heated debates. What countries will take part in boycotting it remains to be seen.
The many different trade and aid policies being pursued by China globally have been heavily criticised but can developing countries become more independent or will China’s policy reform?