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UK to Join Australia, U.S. in Symbolic Boycott of Beijing Olympics

The U.K. will join Australia and the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Wednesday.

The U.K. will not send any government ministers to the February games in what Johnson said is “effectively” a diplomatic boycott, according to the Associated Press. Like Australia and the U.S., the U.K. will not participate in a sporting boycott and will still send athletes to participate, the AP reported.

The boycott comes in response to China’s human rights abuses against Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in the Xinjiang province of China. China’s government has been accused of forcing over one million Uyghurs into forced labor camps, brutally torturing them and harvesting the organs of some in a massive ethnic cleansing project.

In addition to the treatment of Uyghurs, China has cracked down on protests in Hong Kong and threatened Taiwan.

Johnson was initially hesitant to call the move a boycott, only acknowledging it as “effectively a diplomatic boycott” when prompted by lawmakers, The New York Times reported.

China plans to respond to the boycotts with “firm countermeasures,” the AP reported.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared after accusing a former Chinese Communist Party official of sexual assault in November. Many in the international community suspect the government is holding her and controlling her speech to the outside world, now that her location has been confirmed. In response, the Women’s Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China.

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