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10 December 2021

The independent London-based Uyghur Tribunal has found China guilty of genocide following years of accusations levied against Beijing over the treatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. This news follows decisions by the United States, Australia, and other nations to issue a diplomatic boycott over the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The alleged atrocities include suppression of Uyghur births, torture, mass imprisonment, and the destruction of Uyghur culture.

Tribunal chairman and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Nice attacked China over a policy of the “systematic and long-term reduction of Uyghur and other ethnic minority populations.” The People’s Tribunal identified the Chinese Dictator, Xi Jinping and other Chinese political leaders as the primary culprits of the Uyghur genocide.

Although the People’s Tribunal conceded that Xi may not have known about individual cases of human rights violations, his policies were responsible for this, and was aware of their consequences.

Although the People’s Tribunal lacks legal authority, its findings are a moral victory for Uyghur activists and their supporters. The onus is now on the rest of the world to act upon this finding.

Just days before the findings, the US announced that they would be boycotting the Winter Olympics. This was quickly followed by Australia and the UK, among others, also issuing a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, which is set to be held in Beijing in Feb. 2022.

READ MORE: Australia To Boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Games Joining the United States

Last month Lithuania called for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics after China attacked Lithuania over the latter’s support for Taiwan, subsequently joining the list of nations boycotting the Winter Olympics. The European Union signalled their support for Lithuania; however, that has so far proven to be an empty promise. France, although condemning China, will not act until the EU can meet an agreement.

This diplomatic boycott means that a nation would not be sending any political or other official representation to the Winter Olympics, demonstrating that the nation boycotting the Winter Olympics will not interact with a nation currently committing genocide. However, as this is not a complete boycott, athletes would still attend.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited the genocide as the primary motivation behind the US boycott, demonstrating that the world is paying attention to what China is doing, and showing their support for the plight of the Uyghurs.

The fact that athletes are still being sent defeats the purpose of the boycott, as it shows that those nations are still willing to have some interactions with China. It also undermines the intention of showing solidarity with the Uyghurs.

READ MORE: White House Announces Diplomatic Boycott of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The US government bilaterally passed legislation to condemn China, while British politicians have encouraged the British government to officially adopt the term genocide to describe the oppression of the Uyghurs. The governments of the world need to ensure that they take actual action against China over this. Written condemnations do little to relieve the Uyghurs.

A problem with interacting in China is that as a dictatorship, the government is less bound to public opinion. That means that diplomatic approaches that target the government are needed. China is motivated by self-interest and a desire to become a major international player, if not replace America altogether.

The rest of the world needs to offer China a choice. Either China adopts the democratic norms and principles, which are shared by much of the world, in its diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, or it faces diplomatic isolation, which will force China to the negotiation table. These norms include a respect for international laws and conventions, like human rights. If diplomatic isolation is pursued, the EU needs to collaborate with America and other nations for the isolation to be effective.

Either China plays by the rules of the rest of the world, or it faces diplomatic isolation from the rest of the world. The ball is in China’s court.

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Stuart Jeffery, aka LibertyDownUnder, is the founder of the Australian Liberty Network. He is also the host of the Gumtree of Liberty and Gumtree of Liberty Live podcasts, and is editor of the Liberty Review. Stuart is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international relations, at the University of Southern Queensland.

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