On Wednesday Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that Australia would join the US in its diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, over concerns of the genocidal treatment of Uighur Muslims.
The announcement comes as China continues to face criticism over their detention of over one million Uighurs in “re-education camps”. Detainees have reported being tortured, sexually abused, and forcibly sterilised whilst in detention. Human rights campaigners have charged the Chinese government with genocide against the Uighur population.
Akin to the US, whilst Australian officials and politicians will not attend the games, Australian athletes will compete in them.
New Zealand has also revealed that they will not be sending diplomats but the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed that they never had any intention of doing so.
Growing tensions between Australia and China
In explaining his decision Morrison pointed to China's trade sanctions against Australia and refusal to return phone calls from Australian ministers.
China initial imposed these sanctions in response to Australia's criticism of China's human rights record and its clampdown on Hong Kong. The sanctions see barriers against Australian exports including wine, beef, seafood, barley and timber.
“[We are] very happy to talk to the Chinese government about these issues and there’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side, but the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues,” Morrison stated.
New Zealand's position
The Times notes that on Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern and President Xi of China had "an hour-long amicable telephone conversation last month".
Reporting this news Wang Genhua, China’s chargé d’affaires in Wellington, initially reported that the Prime Minister had expressed support for the Winter Olympics. However, Arden's office later added that the Prime Minister had expressed concern over the human rights situation for the Uighur people in Xinjiang and the situation in Hong Kong.
The Times further highlights that "New Zealand is the only member country of the Five Eyes intelligence network — which also includes the US, Canada, Australia and the UK — to sign the Olympic Truce, a tradition that dates back to Ancient Greece to ensure that conflicts do not disrupt the competition".
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