China is warning Australia and other Western nations that they will “pay the price” for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Australia, along with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, will not be sending officials to the Winter Games in February of next year, after raising concerns about the forced labour, mass incarceration, torture and other human rights abuses of Uyghurs, who are natives from the north-west region of China.
“The US, UK, Australia and Canada use the Olympic platform for political manipulation. It is unpopular and they are isolating themselves and they will pay a price for their wrong moves,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a press conference. “Whether their officials come or not, they will see the successful Beijing Games.”
It is still unclear what the “price” will be, as Wang Wenbin avoided directly answering questions regarding what the repercussions might entail. The threat comes after China’s mockery of Australia being America’s “No.1 lackey.”
No.1 US lackey pic.twitter.com/F08JSm1yHc
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) December 8, 2021
Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s decision to participate in the boycott should come as “no surprise” to China. Morrison explained that the decision was “in Australia’s national interest”.
When asked if any possible political or economic repercussions may emerge from the boycott, Morrison said it would be “completely and utterly unacceptable”. “There’d be no grounds for that whatsoever.”
Morrison also confirmed that the ongoing diplomatic tension between Australia and China had influenced the decision, because Australian officials were unable to raise human rights concerns directly with Chinese leaders.
Dutton argued the boycott was a “statement of common sense,” referring to the shocking censorship faced by Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. “I just find it inconceivable in the year 2021 [that] a young female tennis player, in this instance, can make serious allegations of sexual assault and rape and effectively be under house arrest and have her social media wiped,” Dutton said.
International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, is choosing to stay politically neutral on the matter but insists that the important point is “the participation of the athletes in the Olympic Games”. It is understood that the athletes and their staff from all five countries diplomatically boycotting will still compete at the Games.