Canada’s prime minister has announced that he will boycott the Olympics in Beijing because of the construction of the controversial Chinese-financed controversial US$16.5bn (Dh66bn) steel bridge linking Hong Kong and the neighbouring former British colony of Macau.
Trudeau, who earlier warned his fellow politicians to expect a “bloody nose” from President Xi Jinping for taking up the controversial plan to build a new bridge for a bridge linking Canada with Taiwan, said he would not attend the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics scheduled for August 4 in Beijing.
“Canada is not taking part in the opening ceremonies of the Games that have been awarded to China,” Trudeau told a gathering in Ottawa. “We are going to work with the international community to raise our concerns, including those of the other governments that have indicated that they will be participating in the opening ceremonies, and the concern we have is that this infrastructure proposal makes a mockery of the Games’ preoccupation with peace, goodwill and friendship.”
He repeated earlier comments that the competition should be “focused and fair” and not “irrelevant and patronising”.
China and Taiwan face a potential confrontation over control of the island, where China views democratic and free-market institutions as a challenge to its hegemony.
Taiwan hopes the new bridge, which will link the two cities via a man-made island, will cut travel times, giving it greater control over the skies and reducing China’s influence over the outcome of trade talks on the island. The bid to isolate the self-ruled island has been led by billionaire tycoon Peter Smedley, chairman of construction firm Sino-Ocean International.
Smedley did not comment on Trudeau’s announcement.
China and the Philippines were also close to agreement this week over construction of a passenger terminal for the planned north-south rail link, although both governments appeared to have avoided any direct dispute over a transport ministry map put up online that showed Chinese ships carrying coal and oil, and a Canadian train carrying timber and paper on the first leg of the railway, through land illegally taken from the Philippines.