Prince William could be asked to boycott Beijing’s Winter Olympics in a British protest about “egregious” Chinese human rights abuses, MPs heard tonight.
China faces mounting condemnation over its treatment over Uighur Muslims in its north-western Xinjiang region.
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns said skipping the Olympics would “send a strong signal that we will not take part in activities which essentially are a platform for a country that is committing appalling human rights atrocities”.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to rule out snubbing the event as the clock counts down to the 2022 showpiece.
Giving evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Raab, a former human rights lawyer, said: “Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics but there comes a point where that may not be possible.”
He added: “Let’s consider in the round what further action we need to take.”
Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat suggested the Duke of Cambridge “very often attends” sporting spectacles abroad representing the Government.
Senior Conservative backbencher Mr Tugendhat said whether the royal was sent would be a decision for the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Raab said: “Obviously we will want to look at that very closely and carefully.”
There is a growing international backlash to Beijing’s increasing aggression, including its militarisation of the South China Sea, a security crackdown in Hong Kong and its treatment of the Uighurs.
China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, denied reports in July that his government was carrying out a sterilisation programme of Uighur women in a bid to reduce the population.
The diplomat was confronted with drone video appearing to show Uighurs being blindfolded and led to trains.
There have also been claims Chinese authorities are selling Uighurs’ hair on the internet.
“There are egregious human rights abuses,” Mr Raab said tonight.
“Put it this way, in the UK our concern can only be growing about the reports of what’s happening in Xinjiang.
“We would want to work very closely with our international partners to give the most powerful message.”
Just five years ago, then Prime Minister David Cameron hailed a “golden era” of UK-Chinese relations.