Canada said on Thursday it will join the United States and other countries in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in February.
“As many (of our) partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.
“That is why we are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games this winter.”
Canadian athletes will compete in the Games, he said.
The move follows the United States announcing its diplomatic boycott, over what Washington termed China’s “genocide” of the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region and other human rights abuses.
Australia and Britain also said Wednesday that their officials would stay away.
The allies have a growing discord with China over a slew of issues that has plunged relations into the most serious crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Canada in particular saw its relations with China plunge into a deep freeze over Beijing’s detention of two Canadian nationals in response to Canada’s arrest on a US warrant of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder.
All three were released and repatriated in September.
Speaking in Sydney on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the breakdown of the relationship between Australia and China was a cause of concern, as were the ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghur community.
“The human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised, we have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese Government about these issues and there’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side,” he said.
“But the Chinese Government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues.
“So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian Government officials would, therefore, not be going to China for those Games. Australian athletes will, though.”
Following the announcement, the communist party backed media outlet the Global Times tweeted cartoons mocking Australia’s decision in the wake of America’s call to boycott the Games.
Meanwhile, a piece published in the Global Times later on Wednesday night also hit out at Australia.
“Australia’s move is not surprising. As a Western country located in the southern hemisphere, the sense of insecurity grasps Australia so much that it needs a ‘big brother’ to follow,” the piece said.
“However, without even getting an invitation, the so-called boycott is nothing but a joke, Lü Xiang, director for research of the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, told the Global Times.
“The Morrison government’s boycott decision exposed their arrogance and immaturity in dealing with geopolitics as the move brings no good to Australia or bilateral relations, Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Centre, East China Normal University, told the Global Times.”
Beijing warned the US would “pay the price” for its boycott, while it accused Canberra of “political posturing and selfish games” and “blindly following” Washington.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China had never intended to invite Australian officials to the Games, adding: “Whether they come or not, nobody cares.”
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Australia said the boycott ran counter to Canberra’s “publicly pronounced expectation to improve China-Australia relations”.