July 16 (UPI) — Britain’s parliament on Thursday unanimously voted to diplomatically boycott the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the latest punitive move by a Western nation against China over the atrocities it is committing against its Uighur population.
The motion, which is non-binding, states the House of Commons believes the Olympic games should not be held in a country “whose government is credibly accused of mass atrocity crimes” while calling on the British government, including members of the royal family, to decline invitations to attend the event unless Beijing ends its persecution of its Muslim minority citizens in northwestern Xinjiang.
It also calls for the boycott to be in place until sanctions China imposed earlier this year on British politicians who criticized its treatment of its Uighur citizens are rescinded.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton, who introduced the motion and was among the British officials sanctioned by China in March, told the House prior to the vote that China’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 2008 “was a sham.”
He said that China had made numerous promises concerning improving human rights to earn the games, but since they have been held the situation in the Asian nation has further deteriorated.
“The awarding of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing was accompanied by the International Olympics Committee promising the games would act as a catalyst for human rights reform in China,” he said.
“Well, a widely acknowledged genocide in Xinjiang later. Thousands of Tibetans arrested and imprisoned, displaced, tortured and killed later. The snuffing out of free speech, free press and political freedoms in Hong Kong and the trashing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and imposition of the national security law later,” he said. “That went well didn’t it.”
He said if China is allowed to hold these forthcoming games as it wishes it will normalize its behavior while handing it “the mayor soft power propaganda victory it craves.”
To politically boycott the games, Loughton said, would tell the Xi regime that Britain will not turn “a blind eye” to its crimes and convince the government “they need to enact a boycott so that no ministers, diplomats, royal family members and other VIPs dance to the tune of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The loss of face [China] will suffer will show how serious the United Kingdom is,” he said.
MP Iain Duncan Smith, who was also sanctioned by China in March, told the politicians during the debate period that the measure isn’t simply a token as China is “sensitive” to criticism.
“Our government must recognize now it is no longer dealing with a decent organization that would uphold freedoms; it’s dealing with a dictatorial, militaristic, intolerant, oppressive regime who every time we give them these public demonstrations as the Olympics we do ourselves, and worse the Uighur and the Tibetans and all those oppressed peoples a disfavor,” he said.
China has been widely accused of interning more than 1 million Uighur and other Muslim minority citizens in Xinjiang camps where they are subjected to forced labor, sterilization and disappearances.
The United States has repeatedly accused China’s atrocities of amounting to genocide, an accusation both the British and Canadian Parliaments leveled at Beijing who vehemently denies the accusations as meddling in its internal affairs.
MP Graham Stringer suggested during the debate Thursday that they start referring to the upcoming Winter Olympics as “the Genocide Games.”
The motion was debated a week after the Foreign Affairs Committee published a report that stated the evidence of serious human rights abuses in China, which is supported by all levels of the government, is “irrefutable.”
“These crimes include forced labor programs, arbitrary detention in internment camps, cultural erasure, systematic rape, forced sterilizations, separation of children from families and a high-technology surveillance system,” the report said, suggesting the government boycott the 2022 Olympic Games while pursuing other measures such as bans of cotton products made by the forced labor of Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a Britain-based human rights organization focused on freedom of religion, said ahead of the Parliament vote that it shares the same concerns presented by British politicians.
“The UK government must take every opportunity to hold to account the perpetrator of these violations, the Chinese Communist Party, including through a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022,” Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s founder, said in a statement.
China has yet to comment, but it previously sanctioned Loughton, Duncan Smith and several other British politicians days after Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States jointly sanctioned Chinese officials and entities over their involvement in systematic human rights violations against Uighurs.
Last week as politicians in Britain were urging ministers to boycott the Olympics, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters during a regular press briefing that China “firmly opposes the politicization of sports and the interference in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext.”
China has repeatedly said the camps are for re-education purposes to stamp out terrorism and secession and that the accusations of genocide are a lie.
“Attempts to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation are extremely irresponsible, and will only harm the interests of athletes of all countries and the international Olympic cause,” he said. “All sectors of the international community, including the governments and Olympic committees of many countries, and the International Olympic Committee, have all expressed their clear opposition to this wrong practice.”