'NO ONE CARES': China lashes out as Australia considers diplomatic boycott

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·Associate News Editor
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China has issued a defiant response amid speculation Australia will enforce a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

It comes as the US led the way in announcing such a move on Monday (local time) in response to China's human rights record, with Beijing promising "countermeasures" to the decision.

But when asked about Australia taking similar action, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed the impact of such a move, brandishing it "posturing" for political gain.

"In fact, no one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Olympics to be successfully held by Beijing," he said.

Zhao Lijian suggested nobody would care if Australian politicians boycotted the Beijing Olympics. Source: FMPRC
Zhao Lijian suggested nobody would care if Australian politicians boycotted the Beijing Olympics. Source: FMPRC

"It is athletes, instead of politicians clamouring for boycott, that should be in the spotlight."

Sports Minister Richard Colbeck and Foreign Minister Marise Payne are the key figures expected not to attend in such an arrangement.

Mr Colbeck's office told Yahoo News Australia there is no change on the government's position in the wake of the US's move, with the minister stating the Morrison government's decision is "yet to be made".

Employment Minister Stuart Robert told reporters on Tuesday a diplomatic boycott was "under active consideration".

Repercussions should not influence decision, senator says

Sino-Australian relations continue to struggle with Beijing taking umbrage over several matters including Canberra's alleged meddling in internal affairs, notably the issue of Xinjiang where China is accused of serious human rights abuses by several Western nations.

China has retaliated to its list of grievances with a raft of trade sanctions while all but severing diplomatic discussion between the two nations.

Scott Morrison sat in parliament looking dejected.
Pressure is mounting for the Morrison government to follow the US's lead. Source: Getty

And while such a move would rile Beijing further, Liberal senator Eric Abetz, who also chairs the upper house foreign affairs, defence and trade legislation committee, said Australia should not fear further repercussions from the "belligerent" Communist Party of China.

"We have taken a stand on the basis of what is right in principle, and not what the consequences might be," he said.

There is mounting pressure from both Liberal and Labor MPs for Australia to follow the US's lead, while Independent South Australian senator Rex Patrick expressed his desire for Canberra to follow Washington's decision.

"It would be morally wrong for the Australian government to extend any measure of official endorsement to the Chinese Communist regime," he said.

"The Australian government needs to be particularly clear about the Chinese Communist Party's responsibility for genocide."

While other nations have labelled China's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as genocide, Ms Payne has refrained from doing so.

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