Beijing Olympics Boycott: EU and UK Urge to Hold China ‚To Account‘ Over Rights Abuses

Written by | Friday, July 9th, 2021

The European Parliament on Thursday (8 July) called for the EU to boycott the February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing unless China improves the human rights situation in Hong Kong and in the Xinjiang province which is home to the Uyghur Muslim minority. The non-binding resolution also calls for governments to impose further sanctions on China, provide emergency visas to Hong Kong journalists and further support Hongkongers to move to Europe. It was passed with 578 votes in favour to 29 against, with 73 abstentions, and was supported by all of Europe’s mainstream political groups, including the centre-right European People’s party (EPP) group of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the centrists of France’s Emmanuel Macron.
The Parliament vote was yet another sign of souring ties between Brussels and Beijing, which deteriorated in May this year when the two sides imposed a series of tit-for-tat sanctions over China’s human rights record that effectively blocked the ratification of a bilateral investment deal. MEP’s called on the EU’s institutions and member states “to decline invitations for government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China”. Experts, however, say it is difficult to measure the success of a boycott. Some have warned that in the case of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, it could make it even harder to gain concessions from China, saying participating countries should rather use the games to draw attention to China’s human rights abuses. But China’s nationalistic state-owned tabloid, the Global Times, decried the resolution, warning that “Beijing will not exchange China’s core interests for some European forces’ support of the Winter Olympic Games.”
Meanwhile, also a group of influential British lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his goverment to take tougher action against China over its treatment of minority groups, including a partial 2022 Winter Olympics boycott and cotton trade ban. In a report following a months-long inquiry, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday (7 July) also recommended exploring the feasibility of an International Criminal Court probe into the alleged crimes against Uighur Muslims and others in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang. In their 37-page report – Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond – the British MPs argued the “truly horrifying” crimes taking place are “an international call to action”. It called on the government to accept MPs’ view that minority groups there are suffering genocide and crimes against humanity, and take stronger action “to bring these crimes to an end”. They want the UK to use every diplomatic lever to pressure Beijing to allow international observers – in particular the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – access to Xinjiang. The prominent MPs also back a fast-track asylum process for those fleeing persecution in the region, forming a coalition of “sanctuary states” with Western allies.

Article Categories:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.