PM Scott Morrison invokes alleged human rights abuses by China, saying only Australian athletes will go to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics to which Beijing responds: "whether they come or not, nobody cares".

Australia joins the US and New Zealand in Diplomatically boycotting Beijing's Winter Olympics.
Australia joins the US and New Zealand in Diplomatically boycotting Beijing's Winter Olympics. (AFP Archive)

Australia will not send officials to the upcoming winter Olympics in Beijing, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, joining a US diplomatic boycott of the event.

"Australia will not step back from the strong position we had standing up for Australia's interest, and obviously it is of no surprise that we wouldn't be sending Australian officials to those Games," he said on Wednesday. 

Morrison said the Chinese government has not yet made any attempts to respond to several issues raised by Australia including alleged human rights abuses.

"So it is not surprising therefore that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will though," Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

On Monday, New Zealand said it will not send officials to the event, citing coronavirus fears. 

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'Nobody cares'

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin slammed Australia for "blindly following" the US in announcing a boycott, adding that "whether they come or not, nobody cares."

The Chinese embassy in Australia urged Canberra to take concrete measures to create favourable conditions for the improvement of ties.

"As everyone knows, Australia is solely responsible for the current plight of Sino-Australia relations," said the Chinese embassy in a statement on its website.

"Australia's decision not to send officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics runs counter to its public statements of so-called hopes that China-Australia relations could improve."

US and its allies accuse China of human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic groups in its western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, an allegation Beijing denies.

China has repeatedly condemned calls for a diplomatic boycott, in which countries do not send officials to attend the opening ceremony, as "malicious hype".

Some Western countries and campaigners say that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuses.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies