Denmark Latest Country To Join U.S.-Led Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Olympics

Topline

Denmark will not send diplomats to next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, marking the latest country to boycott the event due to human rights abuses in China, and the Netherlands is keeping its diplomats home due to Covid-19 restrictions, the two countries said Friday.

Key Facts

Denmark will not send an official diplomatic delegation to the games, with Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod saying it is “very concerned about the human rights situation in China,” Reuters and Agence France-Presse reported.

The Netherlands also isn’t sending a government delegation, claiming China’s Covid-19 rules would make it difficult for Dutch diplomats to discuss their “grave concern” about human rights, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Frits Kemperman told Reuters on Friday.

The United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the games last month due to Beijing’s alleged repression of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the country’s Xinjiang region, and Australia, the U.K., and Canada joined soon after, pledging to send athletes but no government officials to Beijing.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also said last month the country will not send a government delegation to the games as it “believes that it’s important for China to ensure freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law,” though he stopped short of referring to the move as a diplomatic boycott.

Key Background

The diplomatic boycott comes amid mounting international criticism of China over Xinjiang. The U.S. State Department says the Chinese government has detained up to two million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in reeducation camps in the region, where researchers and journalists say they are often subjected to forced labor — an allegation China has denied. Less than two weeks after announcing the diplomatic boycott, President Joe Biden signed a law banning all imports from Xinjiang unless importers can prove the products were not made using forced labor.

Chief Critic

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters last month the U.S. diplomatic boycott violates the spirit of the Olympic Games, and claimed the country was interfering “out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumors.”

Contra

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony, a foreign ministry spokesperson said this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also attending the event, and will reportedly hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on opening day. China and Russia have deepened their ties in recent years, with Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping overseeing a joint military exercise in China last summer, the Wall Street Journal reported. Pakistan is another longtime economic and military partner of China, and has embraced Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, with China pledging $60 million in 2013 to build a network of transportation and energy projects boosting its connectivity with Pakistan. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also plans to attend in-person and said last month the event “must be an instrument of peace in the world.”

Tangent

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is advising athletes, coaches and staff to refrain from using their personal electronic devices while in China due to surveillance concerns, and use “burner” phones rather than their cellphones. Similar suggestions have been made by olympic committees in the Netherlands, U.K, Australia and Canada, USA Today reported.

Further Reading

Canada Joins Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Olympics. Here Are All The Countries Participating. (Forbes)

Here’s What The U.S. Olympic ‘Diplomatic Boycott’ Means (Forbes)

Anti-coronavirus measures tightened across China (Associated Press)

Omicron Deepens Uncertainty Surrounding Beijing Olympics (New York Times)

The United States could lose all flights to China ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics (CNN)

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