Diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing Olympics

Diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing Olympics

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A backbench debate on boycotting the Beijing Olympics took place on Thursday 15th July. The motion passed successfully, which means the UK will support a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in China.

The motion stated the UK should decline invitations for its representatives to attend the Winter Olympics next year unless the Chinese government ‘ends the atrocities’ occurring in the Xinjiang region.

Here is my full speech:

Thank you Mr Speaker and I’d like to thank the honourable member for East Worthing and Shoreham for securing this debate.

The repression of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Government has a long and dark history, but in the last few years the CCP has ramped up its persecution of Uyghurs. It is estimated that more than 1 million people are being held at internment camps in Xinjiang, and the CCP are showing no signs of pausing their haunting campaign.

Yet despite condemnation from all sides of the House, including the government, there is still a gaping chasm between rhetoric and action. We cannot on the one hand recognise genocide and on the other send dignitaries and diplomats to the Beijing Olympics. We must be robust in our condemnation and send a message to the Uyghur Muslims, that we are on their side.

Background

Calls for a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Olympics are gaining momentum internationally. It is high time that the UK demonstrates leadership on this issue and follows in the footsteps of the EU and America, to send a strong message to the international community that the UK condemns the egregious human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang and indeed in Hong Kong.

We cannot let China detract attention away from international criticism of its human rights abuses and repressive policies.

Mr speaker, a diplomatic boycott is a very basic ask, and frankly we shouldn’t even be having a debate on this. Out of sheer principle the UK government must support a boycott and press China to allow the UN unfettered access to conduct an independent investigation.

 Other measures

Additionally, there are many more practical and much needed steps that the Government can take. Could the Minister outline what steps the government is taking in response to those Parliamentarians who have been sanctioned by the CCP?

Will the Minister also provide an update on further Magnitsky sanctions for those committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang?

The government should also be investigating claims that UK universities could be inadvertently supporting the development of facial recognition and surveillance technologies that are then used by the Chinese government in the oppression of Uyghur people.

Could the Minister update the House on what representation he has made to UK universities on this matter?

Conclusion

The point isn’t about the UK withdrawing support from a sporting event.

It is about condemning the ongoing crimes against humanity taking place in Xinjiang.

It is about ensuring that UK supply chains are not linked to forced Uyghur labour.

It is about making sure that Chinese companies complicit in the surveillance of Uyghurs in Xinjiang aren’t sponsoring research in British universities.

It is about taking a stand, which I hope Mr Speaker after today’s timely debate, will be taken.

You can watch clips of my speech here.

Afzal Khan
Afzal Khan is the Member of Parliament for Gorton (Manchester), representing the Labour Party in Parliament since June 2017.
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Afzal Khan
Afzal Khan is the Member of Parliament for Gorton (Manchester), representing the Labour Party in Parliament since June 2017.

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