EU votes in favour of boycotting China Olympics over Uyghur rights abuses

UK’s foreign affairs committee also called for boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics

<p>In this 5 Feb, 2021, file photo, the logos for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics are seen during an exhibit at a visitors center at the Winter Olympic venues in Yanqing on the outskirts of Beijing</p>

In this 5 Feb, 2021, file photo, the logos for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics are seen during an exhibit at a visitors center at the Winter Olympic venues in Yanqing on the outskirts of Beijing

The European parliament on Thursday passed a resolution urging the government representatives and diplomats to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese government shows a “verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uighur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.”

The 28-point resolution, which is non-binding, condemned the forced closure of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily and the arrests of its journalists. The daily was owned by pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who is already in prison facing several terms.

The resolution was passed with 578 votes in favour compared to 29 against it and 73 abstentions. It was supported by most of Europe’s mainstream political groups.

It welcomed the steps taken by the UK, Australia and Canada to open schemes to offer Hong Kong citizens the opportunity to live and work in their respective countries.

It asked the member states to coordinate the implementation of a ‘lifeboat scheme’ for pro-democracy activists and political leaders in Hong Kong, and to issue emergency travel documents for journalists in Hong Kong who are at risk of arrest.

It also urged the EU and the European diplomatic personnel to do everything they can to “provide protection and support to peaceful activists and political leaders in Hong Kong, including also attending trials, requesting prison visits and consistently and resolutely reaching out to local authorities”.

The resolution reiterates the call for the EU and all its member states to work towards the “holding of a special session or urgent debate on China at the UN Human Rights Council and the launching of an independent UN investigation on China.”

Beijing is increasingly under international pressure on alleged human rights abuse in Hong Kong including arrests of the pro-democracy activists. It is also being repeatedly questioned about the alleged targeting of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region as well as outside even though Beijing has consistently denied the allegations.

In addition to the EU, other western countries including the US and the UK have also raised concerns against the violation of human rights of Uighurs. Some have even imposed sanctions against some Chinese officials over the alleged abuse.

China yesterday hit back at the UK, accusing it of “politicisation of sports” after the Foreign Affairs Committee urged the UK Government to boycott the 2022 Olympic Games to put pressure on China over its treatment of the Uyghurs.

The FAC had said that the ministers should not attend the Beijing Winter Olympics and “should urge others not to do so”. The UK government was also urged to abstain from sending officials to ceremonies and functions, discourage the UK businesses from sponsoring or advertising at the event.

“Some people attempt to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation,” said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Thursday.

Meanwhile the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said this week, although he would consider a diplomatic boycott, he is “instinctively against” taking such action.

Additional reporting by agencies

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