The silence from the Government on the Winter Olympics in Beijing is eerie

When a person here at home comes forward to say they are sexually assaulted, we expect a criminal investigation. We also expect debates in our legislations and police funding why further crimes are not prevented. What we will not expect is for the victim to be disappeared and reappeared by a state media while there is neither investigation nor freedom for the person being sexually assaulted to be approached. In China, when tennis star Peng Shuai accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, she is confined into further danger and injustice. Our Government has stayed eerily quiet when major sporting events are held in countries with tarnished human rights records. While sources say Downing Street is mulling the diplomatic boycott we call for, the continuous inaction is fuelling legitimacy for the autocratic regime.

The Chinese Communist Party loves to portray sports. While Hollywood sometimes glorify breaking the curse of the ‘Sick Man of Asia”, Beijing is just as fascinated pushing for strengthening physique with national figureheads. Chinese leaders are shown swimming against fierce waves in the Yellow River. When President Xi does not swim, he is demonstrated to enjoy football. Probably he may also think it is not worth ending his President for life title in the Yellow River. It is interesting David Cameron played along with the Chinese leader in his portrayal, giving him a visit to Manchester City during Xi’s state visit. It is another ignorance to the fact the Chinese leadership always has a hidden agenda. The Winter Olympics simply cannot improve human rights record in China. In fact, allowing Beijing 2022 to be held normally will contribute to the Chinese party’s narrative.

It may well be rightful in thinking our well-trained athletics’ abilities should not be shrouded by politics, however it is the Government’s inaction to lead as ‘Global Britain’ over human rights that first cast the shadow. For example, Swedish law leads its judicial and legislative mechanisms to be serious on sexual assault crimes. In Sweden, every act of sexual assault has to remain as a crime statistics unless investigations is both able to disprove the act amounts to sexual assault and reclassify the crime under an alternative judicial area. This binding agenda gives momentum for serious action to stop abuses. Meanwhile, there is a lack of political will in Britain. The genocide of Uyghurs is clear and present. When Parliament compromised to a most lenient amendment in requiring parliament to set up a judiciary committee, which is a function of the House of Lords, to scrutinise a free trade deal if and whenever the government seeks a trade deal with country of questionable human rights records; the Prime Minister whips his benches to vote down the Genocide Amendment. Boris Johnson’s ministry should clearly binds itself so that sporting events held in places with stained human rights records cannot be diplomatically supported. We may well be a small nation, but we can justify and be determined to just say no to abuses.

Liberal Democrats MPs should jointly write to the Prime Minister in support for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

* Nicholas Chan is a member of Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesend Liberal Democrats who migrated from Hong Kong under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Selection Scheme the Liberal Democrats campaigned for after 1989. He writes on human rights issue in Hong Kong and China while preparing for solicitor qualification.

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3 Comments

  • David Evans 22nd Nov '21 - 5:50pm

    Quite simply communist China is the biggest threat to our values and way of life that we who live in Western Liberal Democracies (despite their failings) have ever faced.

    Whether it is its militarization of the South China Sea, its treatment of Uighurs, Hong Kong and (like Boris Johnson) its disdain for international agreements, its behaviour towards Taiwan and its massive militarization over the last 20 years, or its raising of its president to the level of an dictator for life, controlling its bellicose expansion has to be the No 1 priority of our nation, our government, our politicians, our allies and as liberals each and every one of us.

    For me it has become deliberately not buying Chinese manufactured goods unless there is no alternative, when second hand is made to suffice as an alternative. While keeping channels open has to be maintained, and the Winter Olympics go ahead, I would suggest every Lib Dem and every person who cares should boycott any company that sponsors or pays for that event, and make it clear that they are doing so.

    China is well practiced in making access to its national markets dependent on companies keeping quiet on its abuses. We have to make access to our personal markets dependent on them not supporting that country and the evil it does in any way.

    There is an old (Russian) communist joke along the lines that “A capitalist is a man who will sell you the rope with which you hang him.” China seems to be getting us to buy it for them.

  • John Marriott 24th Nov '21 - 8:36am

    What enabled us to ‘win’ the Cold War with the Soviet Union was because, while it could compete with the West in terms of arms, it didn’t really stand a chance in terms of economics. With China it’s a different ball game. China has the arms (or will have very soon) but it has also espoused a version of capitalism that is increasingly out competing the West.

    The answer has surely got to be to begin again to make more things locally, which will probably mean higher prices. It’s fair trade that we want and a level playing field. As for the Winter Olympics, I read somewhere that the hosts have been forced to make their own snow. Crickey, we can’t even rely on Mother Nature any more either to provide the goods.

    As for a boycott, because there don’t appear to be many U.K. medal hopes and looking at the time difference I think i’ii give the Games a miss anyway.

  • I think John Marriott is right is saying “The answer has surely got to be to begin again to make more things locally, which will probably mean higher prices.”
    You need a strong manufacturing sector to have higher wages and reliable supply chains to ensure the provision of essential supplies. What you lose with respect to cheaply produced goods you gain with higher wages and security of supply.

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