29th Nov 2023

Mandelson warns against Olympic boycott 'grandstanding'

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has attacked those suggesting a boycott of the Olympics over the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet as engaging in "grandstanding and gestures" and warned against damaging the relationship Europe has with China.

"What frightens me is the relationship breaking down,'' he said in a television interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday (15 April). "Our influence is going to be exercised more effectively by talking, rather than going in for grandstanding and gestures.''

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  • Trade commissioner Mandelson has warned against 'direct confrontation' with China (Photo: Wikipedia)

The commissioner made the comments following a talk at the China-Britain Business Council in London.

In his speech, he warned against "direct confrontation" and said that a boycott of either the Olympic Games or even just the opening ceremonies would harm both Europe and China, while doing nothing to change China's policies.

"I do not support these [boycott calls] because, while it is easy to see how they would hurt the interests of ordinary Europeans and Chinese, it is not possible to see how they would help," he said, reports the Daily Telegraph.

He also said that Europe has "the biggest stake imaginable" in the transformation of the emerging global power.

"We can and should insist on our values and our concerns. But we must also not lose sight of the fact that we are bound to work with China, to live alongside China, to help China succeed," he continued.

Boycott of French products

Meanwhile, Chinese nationalist activists online have been whipping up support for their own boycott, but of French products.

In reaction to the interruptions to the Olympic torch relay that occurred in France and elsewhere, a message being circulated via email and mobile text message, urges a boycott of French supermarket chain Carrefour.

France is being particularly targeted, as the Chinese activists are angry over attempts by pro-Tibet protesters to grab the torch from Paralympic fencer Jin Jing, footage of which has been repeatedly played on Chinese television.

"Adding the French people's support for Tibetan separatists during the Paris leg of the torch relay, there is truly no reason to give the French money by buying their goods," the message read, according to Reuters.

A Chinese government spokesperson on Tuesday gave implicit support to such boycott calls.

"Recently, some Chinese people have expressed their views and sentiments. I think this all has a cause and a reason," foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters.

"We cannot accept behaviour that, on the one hand, attaches importance to Sino-French relations, while on the other hand does things that are not understandable and acceptable to the Chinese people," she said, reports Chinese news agency Xinhua.

"We hope the French side can listen to what Chinese people say, and adopt an objective and equitable stance on a series of recent issues."


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