GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
The Winter Olympics opens in four days in Beijing and, as with many other aspects of life in China, there are conflicting views stirred by the role of China in the world today. In 2008 China hosted the Summer Olympics and its preparation was severely tested by the Sichuan Earthquake in May 2008. The Games went ahead and were well received across the world. Similarly, the Winter Olympics has been challenged by Covid-19 but China remains on course to deliver the Games as planned.
There are controversies. The US, UK and a small number of other nations are pursuing a diplomatic boycott as they continue to insist that China is guilty of genocide in Xinjiang. The boycott will be made and the Games will proceed and it reminds us of the growing significance of China as it remains on course to become the largest economic power in the world by 2030.
China stirs reactions – some are pleased to see one of the weakest countries in the world in 1949 become a world leader in investment, consumption, growth and a rising standard of living for its people. Others resent China’s progress and see it as an affront to human rights – notwithstanding that US/UK Covid death figures are close to 1m people – China’s comparative figure is 5,000. It poses the question – which Government excels at looking after its people and which falls short.
In the glare of media coverage, there may be attempts by some participants to grab the limelight and make a political protest during the playing of the national anthems. These things happen but they do not displace the fundamental urge of sportsmen and women throughout the world to come together every four years to compete with each other in the pursuit of higher sporting standards and closer links and friendship.
The world of politics will continue. There will be more Belt and Road Initiatives; China will encourage its people to travel overseas, and tourism into China will grow in numbers. The world will become smaller as the comparisons become starker.
TOMORROW – IS TAIWAN A SOVEREIGN NATION?