China must act more transparently if it wants to win the world’s trust

It is a manifestation of strong criticism against China’s serious and ongoing human rights abuses. China should take the matter seriously and make efforts to dispel distrust.

The United States has announced that it will not send an official U.S. government delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which will open in February next year, in what is called a “diplomatic boycott.” As the reason, it cited China’s human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other areas.

The White House press secretary stressed that there cannot be “business as usual” under such circumstances. But she also said U.S. athletes will continue to compete in the Games.

Government delegations attend opening, closing and other Games ceremonies and play a role in supporting their athletes and promoting friendship with the host country. The United States sent first lady Jill Biden and government officials to the Tokyo Games this summer.

Regarding China’s human rights abuses, the country has also been criticized for its suppression of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and concerns over the safety of a female professional tennis player who had accused a former vice premier of sexual assault. In the United States, hard-line views against China have been growing, and there also have been calls for the athletes not to participate in the Games.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, which emphasizes human rights, may have decided that it would be necessary to send a firm message to China, while respecting the position of U.S. athletes who have prepared for the Games.

China is strongly opposed to this and warned that it would take countermeasures. It seems that China’s intention to assemble heads of state, ministers and others of various countries at the Beijing Games to demonstrate its presence at home and abroad is going awry.

This situation was brought about by China’s unwillingness to disclose information, while instead simply denying accusations of human rights abuses by calling them lies.

The U.S. government has said that more than 1 million members of the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been detained at facilities where they are tortured, pressed into forced labor and otherwise abused.

The governments and parliaments of the United States and Europe have recognized that this campaign constitutes genocide and have called for a U.N. investigation team to be dispatched to the region to clarify the actual situation.

Respect for human rights is a universal value expressed in such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. China says it supports this value. If so, it makes no sense to refuse to allow the United Nations to conduct an investigation or observation activities in the region on the grounds of “interference in internal affairs of other countries.” Japan also should directly urge China to accept a U.N. investigation team for that purpose.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said Japan will make its own decision on how to deal with the Beijing Games. Japan should cooperate with China for the success of the Games, but a festival symbolizing peace must not be turned into a propaganda venue for China, and its human rights abuses must not be left unaddressed.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 8, 2021.