UK Parliament Supports Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

July 15, 2021 Updated: July 15, 2021

MPs have approved a parliamentary motion criticising Beijing’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics and calling for a UK diplomatic boycott.

The proposal argued the showpiece sporting event should not be held in a “country whose government is credibly accused of mass atrocity crimes.”

It added 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, with warnings that “genocide” is taking place against Uighur Muslims.

MPs also want sanctions imposed on UK politicians and others to be lifted.

The motion is non-binding on the government but attracted support from across the House.

Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said allowing China to go ahead with the Winter Olympics next year is akin to “appeasing Hitler.”

He told the Commons: “We have forgotten what happened when we appeased another ghastly dictatorship. Sixty million people died as a result of our failure when we appeased them and we are on the same course today.

“And this debate today about boycotting these Olympics is not just a token.

“We know that China is sensitive when it gets global criticism, when people shine the torch on what goes on behind it. We know they react.

“Why do we know that? Because they sanction people like myself and many of my colleagues in this chamber and the European Parliament.”

Labour MP Afzal Khan said: “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 [that] genocide [is happening in China] and on the other send dignitaries and diplomats to the Beijing Olympics.”

Conservative former minister Tim Loughton, who tabled the motion, said the UK would follow in the steps of the United States if it agreed to a diplomatic boycott.

Loughton, who is currently subject to Chinese sanctions himself, also warned past attempts to influence China had failed.

He said: “The awarding of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing was accompanied by the International Olympics Committee promising that the Games would act as a catalyst for human rights reform in China.

“Well, a widely acknowledged genocide in Xinjiang later, thousands of Tibetans arrested, imprisoned, displaced, tortured and killed later, the snuffing out of free speech and political freedoms in Hong Kong, and the trashing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and imposition of their national security law later, that went well didn’t it?”

By David Lynch and Richard Wheeler