TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7
The US has confirmed that it will not send any diplomats or officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics, as a protest against human rights abuses, a move that China has vowed to greet with “firm countermeasures”.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision had been taken in light of China’s “ongoing genocide” and “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang.
US athletes will still compete in Beijing and have “full support”, but Ms Psaki said the US would not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games in light of China’s “egregious” human rights abuses.
Diplomatic and official representation “would treat these Games as business as usual”, she said.
The Biden administration will this week host a White House Summit for Democracy.(AP: Susan Walsh)
“Standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans,” Ms Psaki said.
“We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights, and we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”
The boycott was welcomed by human rights groups, with Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson saying it was “a crucial step toward challenging the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities”.
Uyghur representatives outside of China have long called for the Games to be relocated.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez called such a diplomatic boycott “a necessary step to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights in the face of the Chinese government’s unconscionable abuses”.
He called on “other allies and partners that share our values to join with the United States in this diplomatic boycott”.
The Australian government has also raised the possibility of a diplomatic boycott, amid an increasingly strained relationship with China.
Asked on Friday about whether a decision had been made on the issue, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We’re considering those matters at the moment and working through those issues.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has accepted China’s invitation to attend.
China earlier threatened to take “firm countermeasures” if the US proceeded with the boycott.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused US politicians of grandstanding by not sending officials to attend the events that China hopes will showcase its economic development and technological prowess.
Mr Zhao said such a move would be an “outright political provocation”, but gave no details on how China would retaliate.
The US is next due to host an Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles, raising the question of how China might respond in the interim.
Beijing says it opposes the politicisation of sport, but it has punished American sports leagues in the past, including the National Basketball Association, for running afoul of its political red lines.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the Biden administration was consulting with allies and partners on a “shared approach” to the Beijing Games in light of their concerns about China’s human rights record.
Victoria has recorded 1,185 new local COVID-19 cases and seven deaths.
There are now 13,050 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 566 people have died during the state’s current Delta outbreak.
There are 297 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 47 are in intensive care and 25 are on a ventilator.
The health department said a further 55 people were in intensive care but their COVID-19 infections were no longer considered active.
The new cases were detected from 52,257 test results received yesterday.
There were 3,769 doses of vaccine administered at state-run sites yesterday, and more vaccinations at GP clinics and other venues.
Victoria has now fully vaccinated more than 91 per cent of its population aged 12 and over.
*NSW has recorded 260 new cases of Covid-19 and two deaths on Tuesday.
There are 155 people in hospital with the virus, including 28 people in intensive care.
Of the over 16 population, 92.8 per cent are double-dose vaccinated and 94.7 per cent have received at least one shot.
Of teenagers aged between 12 and 15, 77.2 per cent are fully vaccinated and 81.3 per cent have had at least their first dose.
There were 58,706 coronavirus tests conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday night.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian to run for federal politics despite a corruption cloud over the ex-NSW premier.
Ms Berejiklian resigned from the top job in October, after the state’s corruption watchdog announced its probe into her former lover had widened to include her.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether she breached public trust or encouraged corrupt conduct during her secret relationship with ex-Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
ICAC is yet to hand down its findings, but Ms Berejiklian has been encouraged by senior Liberal Party members to run for the formerly blue-ribbon Sydney seat of Warringah at the next federal election.
Mr Abbott, who lost the seat to independent Zali Steggall in 2019, told the Sydney Morning Herald he’d like to see Ms Berejiklian remain in public life.
“Gladys did a fine job as premier and was by far the best of them at resisting virus panic and calls for lockdowns,” he said on Monday.
“We certainly need more people in Canberra with an instinct for freedom and a feel for small business and it would be good to keep Gladys in our public life.”
Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: Tim Hunter.
It’s understood some Liberals now believe Ms Berejiklian is their only chance of winning Warringah back.
Senior federal government members, including the Prime Minister, have publicly backed Ms Berejiklian and said they would “love” to see her run in the upcoming election.
Scott Morrison on Monday described her as a “person of great integrity” and said he would support any federal politics bid from her.
“If she wants to have a crack at Warringah for the Liberal Party, I suspect that the people would welcome that in Warringah,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Ms Berejiklian had not been “found” guilty of anything and accused ICAC of a “pile on”, though he failed to acknowledge its findings are yet to be handed down.
“There is no suggestion of criminal conduct … I don’t call (the ICAC process) justice,” Mr Morrison said.
A Victorian beach remains closed this morning after a shark attack on Monday night left two teens injured.
Two teenagers are in a stable condition after the shark attack last night
Onlookers provided first aid to the pair, who were bitten just after 7pm
Ocean Grove beach remains closed to swimmers and surfers
The girl, 15, and boy, 16, were bitten while swimming at the Ocean Grove Beach, near Geelong, near dusk.
The pair was taken to Geelong Hospital for treatment and were in a stable condition.
Locals said the girl was bitten on the lower leg by a reef shark in shallow water.
The boy came to her rescue and was also bitten when he tried to fight off the shark.
Onlookers provided first aid to the pair.
Former trauma nurse Dianne Hobbs was swimming with her family nearby when the attack happened.
“At first we thought they were just mucking around and having some fun, and then they appeared in distress,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
Ms Hobbs said the girl sustained a large bite to her lower right leg, and the boy was bitten on the back.
“We needed extra help bringing her out of the water to try and lift her up out of the water because she was losing quite a bit of blood.”
“They both were amazing considering what had happened and the experience they encountered, she saw the shark and knocked it away.”
The Victorian Fisheries Authority said the shark had been sighted close to shore and urged people to report any further sightings by calling triple-0.
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