On February 5, 2021, reporters watched the exhibition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Exhibition Center in Yaqing District, Beijing, China.
Kevin Freyer | Getty Images
Political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group said that countries and companies outside of China are facing increasing pressure to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, but China will not stand idly by.
An Eurasia Group analyst said: “Western governments and companies are facing increasing pressure from China̵
The Olympic Games will be held from February 4th to 20th.
They said in a report published on Thursday: “China will punish countries that boycott the Olympics through political sanctions and commercial retaliation, but in the case of sports boycotts, it will impose severer punishments.”
The report said: “Activists focused on Beijing’s targeted suppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Some Western governments called it’genocide’.” “As the opening ceremony approaches, it calls for avoiding radicals labeled as’genocide games.’ ‘The voice will increase, which increases risks for governments, companies and investors-regardless of whether they decide to boycott or not.”
Last month, the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States issued a joint statement accusing the Chinese government of implementing a “widespread repression program” against the Uyghur people, including detention camps, forced labor and forced sterilization.
China has repeatedly denied allegations of forced labor and other abuses in Xinjiang. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called such statements “malicious lies” last month, aimed at “smearing China” and “frustrating China’s development.”
Businesses are also caught in a crossfire.
At the end of March, H&M faced strong opposition in China in a statement (reportedly last year). In this statement, the Swedish retailer stated that it was “deeply concerned” about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang.
Reports in Eurasia stated that supporters of the boycott of the Olympic Movement believed that “it is necessary to punish China because of its systematic discrimination against ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, its suppression of Hong Kong’s political freedom, and its hostility to Taiwan’s autonomy.”
Three kinds of boycotts
Eurasia outlines three possible scenarios: diplomatic boycotts, campaign boycotts, or so-called “outside programs.”
1. Diplomatic boycott
The most likely scenario (with a probability of 60%) is that the United States joins at least one other major Western country in the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Games.
Analysts said: “Diplomatic boycott is defined here as downgrading or not sending government representatives to participate in the Olympics and taking other high-profile steps to deny Beijing’s presence as a host country.”
Eurasia indicated that it may conduct a diplomatic boycott in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, and some European countries may also join.
However, American partners in Asia, Japan, India, and South Korea (who have “more complex political dynamics” or deeper economic relations with China) are not expected to join this resistance.
Eurasia believes that diplomatic policy is the least drastic plan.
2. Boycott sports
With this probability of 30%, one or more Western countries may exert domestic political pressure to prevent their athletes from participating in the Olympics. Economic boycott is defined as a ban on American viewers, broadcasters and sponsors.
Analysts from Eurasia said: “Sports and economic boycotts are difficult to attract the attention of the audience. This will force Beijing to take more severe retaliatory actions against China, which may involve diplomatic freezes and widespread consumer boycotts of Western brands. “
3. “Boycott the condensed version”
Analysts said that this is an unusual situation. The tension between the West and China has eased. There will be a “moderate political statement on the Olympics”, but there will be no formal boycott, calling it a “mild boycott.”
They said that this is the least likely to happen, and the probability of occurrence is only 10%. He said: “At present, there is not much reason to be optimistic about the trajectory of Sino-Western relations.”
Here, the head of state may refuse to participate in the Olympics and cite schedule conflicts or other non-political excuses. The report said: “The rhetoric has not reached the enthusiastic support of Beijing as the host country, but it will not announce a boycott, nor will it show a unified Western position.”
A recoil from China?
Boycotting the Olympic Games “reduces any soft power dividends.” Chinese President Xi Jinping once hoped to benefit from the Olympics. This provides Beijing with “a way to enhance its global position among domestic audiences and show it to billions of foreign audiences.” A platform with a positive image” said an analyst from Eurasia.
Analysts said: “Beijing will almost certainly retaliate against countries participating in the boycott.” “Beijing’s direct response to the diplomatic boycott may be a mutual boycott of Western events and sanctions against prominent boycott advocates.”
Consumer companies outside China are increasingly trying to take a balanced action. On the one hand, they project a human rights concern to consumers outside of China, while on the other they try to avoid being rejected by China’s huge market. .
The analyst said: “If a company does not boycott the Olympics, it will likely damage the reputation of Western consumers. However, if it does, it may be rejected by the Chinese market.”
They said that because the Olympics enjoys a high international reputation, retaliation against China may be “even worse” compared to the current cancellation of H&M’s commercial status on the Chinese Internet.
Analysts said that most companies may still choose to participate in the Olympics because “the potential cost of losing access to the Chinese market may exceed concerns about strong opposition from Western consumers.” Eurasian Airlines predicts that this may be short-lived.
— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.