Australia Joins US Diplomatic Boycott to Beijing Winter Olympics

Story Highlights
  • Australia to not send officials to February's Winter Olympics in Beijing.
  • PM Scott Morrison joined a US diplomatic boycott of the Games.
  • He cited human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Beijing freeze on ministerial contact with Australia.

Sydney: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that Australia will not send officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, joining a US diplomatic boycott of the Games. Canberra’s decision comes amid “disagreement” with China on a number of topics, which has thrown relations into the worst crisis since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Morrison also mentioned Xinjiang’s human rights violations and Beijing’s suspension of ministerial engagement with Australia.

The decision, which stopped short of barring athletes from competing in the 2022 Olympics, came only one day after the US imposed a diplomatic boycott of the country. The decision was made in response to what the US called China’s genocide of the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region, as well as other human rights violations, prompting Beijing to warn that the US would “pay the price.” China’s reaction to Australia following suit was more subdued at first. “Runs counter to its (Canberra’s) publicly pronounced expectation to improve China-Australia relations,”  a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said. According to activists, at least one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in Xinjiang camps, where China is also accused of forcefully sterilising women and enforcing forced labour. The camps have been justified by Beijing as vocational training centres aimed at diminishing Islamic extremism’s attractiveness.

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