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2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics: Diplomatic Relations

Volume 704: debated on Tuesday 30 November 2021

8. What assessment she has made of the effect of China’s human rights on the strength of diplomatic relations ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games in Beijing. (904445)

The Government are clear that we want a relationship with China that allows us to manage disagreements, defend our values and preserve space for co-operation where our interests align. We have taken robust action in response to our serious concerns about human rights in China. For example, on Xinjiang, we have led international efforts at the UN, imposed sanctions and announced a range of supply-chain measures.

Following the litany of abuses against the Uyghur Muslims and in Hong Kong, and, most recently, the international concern about the treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai, both the US President and the Prime Minister have admitted that they are considering a diplomatic boycott of the winter Olympics. Does the Minister agree that that has now taken on renewed urgency, and will she urge the Prime Minister to think about a boycott?

Taking a couple of points there, on Peng Shuai, we have called on the Chinese authorities to ensure her safety and we are following her case very closely. Everyone should be allowed to speak out without fear of repercussions. All reports of sexual assault, anywhere in the world, should be investigated. No decisions have been made by the Government on attendance of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics next year.

It has now been published that, in a number of speeches back in 2014, President Xi drove his authorities to carry out the genocide that is going on in Xinjiang among the Uyghur. China is a country that has trashed an international treaty with the United Kingdom over Hong Kong and is arresting everybody who disagrees with it and persecuting them. What more does it take for my Government to make a clear decision that they will not attend the winter Olympics and will not allow officials to do so? The other day, the Leader of the House indicated that no tickets had been bought. That is not good enough. Can we now have a clear answer that we will not attend and neither will our officials?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. We have taken robust action in relation to human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and we have imposed sanctions on those responsible. As I said, no decisions have been made on Government attendance at the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics in 2022.

The Minister will be aware that, over the weekend, documents emerged that clearly demonstrate that the orders to commit genocide in Xinjiang are coming from the very top of the Chinese Communist party, including from Chen Quanguo and President Xi Jinping himself. For several months, Opposition Members have been calling for a full diplomatic and political boycott of the Beijing winter Olympics in response to those atrocities, but the Government continue to sit on their hands. In the light of this profoundly disturbing new information and amid deep and growing concern about the treatment of tennis player, Peng Shuai, does the Minister think that it is appropriate to send members of our royal family to the Beijing Olympics to rub shoulders with the very people who are orchestrating these horrific crimes against their own people?

As I said in previous answers, we have taken robust action in response to our concerns. The hon. Gentleman raises a number of issues including that of Peng Shuai, the tennis player. We have imposed sanctions, but in terms of attendance at the winter Olympics, no decisions have been made.