Prime Minister Trudeau condemns China’s human rights abuses . . .
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada will not be sending political representatives to the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region. Trudeau stated he did not think the decision would “come as a surprise” to China considering the Canadian government’s consistent stance on human rights violations, and particularly the situation in Xinjiang, over the past several years. Ottawa has openly condemned the human rights violations in Xinjiang on several occasions. And while the Prime Minister and most members of his cabinet abstained, last February Canada’s House of Commons voted 266 to 0 in favour of a motion to declare China's treatment of its Uyghur minority population a genocide.
International spotlight on China . . .
Trudeau’s announcement came on the heels of similar statements by the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. All three cited China’s human rights abuses and refusal to discuss or address the situation as the primary reason for boycotting. Japan has yet to make any decision regarding the attendance of its government officials, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that Japan will make the decision based on its “national interests.” The Olympics brings the host much international attention and prestige. However, the international spotlight often also opens opportunities to highlight the host country’s domestic problems and issues, providing marginalized groups and critics the occasion to gain international recognition of their causes.
Beijing’s response . . .
When the U.S. first announced a potential diplomatic boycott on Monday, the Chinese government initially responded with outrage and a warning that a boycott could harm future co-operation between the two countries. However, once the decision was confirmed, the Chinese embassy in Washington noted that U.S. politicians had not been invited to the Olympics anyway and that their absence would not negatively impact the event. The embassy spokesperson also claimed the decision was a “grave distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter.” Although it is unlikely the diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Olympics will result in any policy change by Beijing, they will be a high-profile reminder to the international community of the human rights violations being committed in China.
- Global News: Canada joining diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
- The Guardian: China attacks US diplomatic boycott of Winter Games as ‘travesty’ of Olympic spirit
- South China Morning Post: White House confirms diplomatic boycott of 2022 Beijing Olympics