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UK considering diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics in Beijing

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year in protest of China's record on human rights, the Times reported on Saturday. As Beijing’s Olympics 2022 is just three months away, the Biden administration has been planning to boycott the games.

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UK on Friday joined calls of ‘diplomatic boycott’ of Beijing’s Winter Olympics with the US as it lodged protest against China’s record on human rights abuses. UK’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss is in “active discussion” with other lawmakers in favour of the boycott of the games to be held in China in February 2022.

British ministers from the Prime Minister Boris Johsnon’s administration would not attend the Games, although some of the UK diplomats to China will, UK’s leading newspaper The Times reported. As many as five Conservative politicians have already written to PM Boris Johnson to ban any official UK diplomatic representation at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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What is UK’s strategy behind this?

In July this year, the British parliamentarians had voted in favor of a motion that asked the Boris Johnson government to diplomatically boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics over the Chinese CPC’s alleged atrocities and human rights abuses committed against the minority Uyghur community in Xinjiang province. Lawmakers also pressurized the UK leader to demand that China gives the UN ‘unfettered access’ for a transparent probe into the “systematic persecution” of Uyghurs. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office spokesperson at the time had confirmed that “no decisions have been made” yet.

China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uyghurs in the camps, subjecting them to torture and forced sterilization for ethnic cleansing. In March, the UK also made an official announcement to sanction four Chinese officials over “appalling violations” of human rights describing Chinese atrocities as  “one of the worst human rights crises of our time”.

Read more: Hatred forces India to drop Chinese sponsor for Olympic team

US still finalising ‘what our presence will be’: Psaki 

As Beijing’s Olympics 2022 is just three months away, the Biden administration has been planning to boycott the games. The US will not send an official delegation to China in defiance to the Olympics over Beijing’s human rights abuses, and the US President Joe Biden has been given a formal recommendation for the same, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin first reported.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later said at a White House briefing that a diplomatic boycott would not affect athletes, adding that the US is still finalising “what our presence will be” at the games.

 

Reuters with additional input by GVS