EU votes for diplomats to boycott Beijing Winter Olympics

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on diplomatic officials to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to continuing allegations of human rights abuses.
July 10, 2021 | 07:47
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The non-binding resolution also called for further sanctions, emergency visas for Hong Kong journalists and further support for Hongkongers to move abroad. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP
The non-binding resolution also called for further sanctions, emergency visas for Hong Kong journalists and further support for Hongkongers to move abroad. Photo: AFP

The resolution 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.

In escalating tensions between the EU and China, the non-binding resolution also called for governments to impose further sanctions, provide emergency visas to Hong Kong journalists and further support Hongkongers to move to Europe, The Guardian reported on July 9.

With 28 points, it called for EU officials and member states to decline all government and diplomatic invitations to the 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”.

The resolution had a focus on the Hong Kong crackdown and cited numerous specific instances of concern, including “notably” the shutdown of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and prosecution of staff and owners, the introduction and use of the national security law and a dob-in community hotline, and changes to education, the courts, and elections.

The promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law should remain at the centre of the longstanding relationship between the EU and China, in line with the EU’s commitment to upholding these values in its external action and China’s expressed interest in adhering to them in its own development and international cooperation,” it said.

The motion calls for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo: AFP
The motion calls for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo: AFP

Beijing has so far resisted calls for it to improve its human rights record in the face of an Olympics boycott movement, instead denying any wrongdoing and accusing countries of interfering in internal affairs.

In response to separate boycott calls by the UK’s Labour party, China’s ministry of foreign affairs said on July 8 it accused some people of attempting to disrupt or sabotage the Olympics “out of political motivation”.

China firmly opposes the politicisation of sports, and the interference in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext,” said the ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin.

The EU resolution is the latest flashpoint between the EU and China over the latter’s human rights issues, with recent tit-for-tat sanctions prompting the freezing of a trade deal before it was even ratified. The resolution said the deal would stay blocked until China lifted sanctions on EU parliamentarians and scholars.

EU-China investment deal blocked

According to the AFP, MEPs stressed "the need for the EU to take urgent and resolute action" and called on Brussels to draw up a fresh wave of sanctions against Chinese authorities.

The resolution said the earlier decision to block a EU-China investment deal stood as long as Chinese sanctions against MEPs and scholars were in place.

Chinese citizens walks past a sign for Beijing’s Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China. Lintao Zhang | Getty Images
Chinese citizens walks past a sign for Beijing’s Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China. Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

The Parliament voted overwhelmingly in May to refuse any consideration of the deal as long as sanctions were there.

China says the sanctions are a justified response after the EU imposed punitive measures against Chinese officials over allegations of human rights abuses.

Belgium's Parliament also passed a resolution on July 8 warning of a "serious risk of genocide" against China's Uighurs.

The resolution aligned the Parliament with similar statements by the US administration and a handful of western countries, including Britain, Canada and the Netherlands.

It brought a sharp response from China.

"We call on Belgium to immediately correct its error so as to avoid a deterioration in Sino-Belgian relations," said Chinese foreign ministry official Zhao Lijian./.

Having won the bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games on 31 July 2015, Beijing is set to become the first city in the world to have hosted both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games.

With a vision of “Joyful Rendezvous upon Pure Ice and Snow,” Beijing 2022 will build on the legacies of the landmark Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and expects to encourage millions of people across China to embrace winter sports.

The 109 events in seven Olympic winter sports will be held in the three competition zones of central Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

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