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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has accepted an invitation to attend the Beijing Olympics, raising questions about the global effort to confront China on grievous human rights abuses.
U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric confirmed on Thursday that Guterres had accepted the invitation from the International Olympic Committee, whose vice president previously said China’s humanitarian abuses weren’t within the organization’s “remit.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is shown on the screen while speaking at the opening ceremony of the UN Internet Governance Forum in Katowice, Poland on Dec. 7, 2021. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/via Getty Images)
“The Secretary‑General received an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to attend the Beijing winter games and he has accepted it,” said Dujarric. “I mean, as you know, I think his two immediate predecessors have attended almost every Olympic game since at least 2002, when Kofi Annan went to Salt Lake City.”
Dujarric’s confirmation came just before U.N. Human Rights Day on Friday, and as some Western nations (U.S., Australia, Canada and the U.K.) have said they will proceed with a diplomatic boycott of the winter games.
In announcing the U.S.’s diplomatic boycott, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed to the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.
A man wearing a face mask with the image of China’s President Xi Jinping joins other human rights activists holding Olympic Rings as they protest in Taipei against the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games to mark Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, 2021. (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
On Friday, the White House also announced its “Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative” – something it said was in line with previous Uyghur-related sanctions on the PRC.
The State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
The Chinese government has denied engaging in genocide, forced labor, or religious oppression, but other nations aren’t buying it.
International flags outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Former diplomat Sam Brownback, who has been outspoken on Uyghur persecution, said Friday he thought it was a “bad signal for the top UN official to attend, particularly when there is an ongoing genocide.” China previously sanctioned Brownback, along with other U.S. politicians that have criticized the country.
Brownback, who previously served as U.S. ambassador at-large for international religious liberty, praised the Olympics boycotts, but argued to Fox News that the U.S. and its corporations should do more to pressure China.
“Don’t give China a big PR [public relations] win at the Olympics,” he said during an interview Thursday. Brownback suggested that Olympic athletes hold pictures of PRC victims like Jimmy Lai.
He added that China is “used to controlling all of the messaging, so they expect to control the global messaging, and they expect to do that in the same way that they control their own people – and do it with money and power and strong-arm tactics. And we shouldn’t bow to it.”
BBC previously reported on the Uyghur situation with alleged former detainees claiming horrific abuses, like raping women with electrocuting instruments and forcing others to watch a woman being raped. Reports have pointed toward forced abortions, sterilization and other forms of persecution.