Rafto Op-ed: "What do we do with China?"

The Rafto Foundation is questioning the Norwegian Govermment's choice of dialogue and not diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Photo: Sedat Suna EPA/NTB

When Norway does not choose a boycott, the government must show what human rights dialogue with China actually means, Executive Director at the Rafto Foundation writes in an opinion piece, printed in the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende, on 5 February.

Here are the Rafto Foundation's main points of concerns:

  • The 2022 Olympics is taking place in a country where more than a million Uighurs are kept in concentration camps because of their faith and ethnicity. The Communist Party has over the past year stifled the last remaining democracy in Hong Kong, and is threatening neighboring Taiwan with invasion.
  • Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Denmark, have chosen diplomatic boycott of the Games.
  • Norway wants to enter into a dialogue over China's human rights records rather than a boycott. With such a position also comes a responsibility to show the Chinese authorities, the victims of the regime's human rights violations and the Norwegian people what this dialogue actually entails.
  • China's economic growth are easy to be dazzled by. China's international influence is increasing, both through business investments and through institutional cooperations. This also makes it more difficult for the UN to address human rights violations.
  • China has stated that Norwegian citizens who participate, will be punished if they criticize the Chinese authorities during the Games. This is incompatible with values ​​that are fundamental both for our society and for the sports movement.
  • Therefore, it would be right to follow others countries in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
  • Choosing dialogue reaches the danger of contributing to "sportswashing" and to legitimizing human rights violations. The line of dialouge therefore obliges even more.

Read the op-ed here (in Norwegian)


Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt

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