Soft power in the snow


Winter Olympics has become a ‘mission impossible’ for China after the announcement of the boycott by the major powers. Beijing is not only eager to flaunt China’s rich history and culture but also its brand-new stadiums, its ability to run an international event smoothly, and its talented athletes. And now, the 2022 Winter Olympics has left little room for China to showcase its national image and polish its reputation, as the coronavirus pandemic has forced organizers to settle for “simple, safe and splendid”. The Winter Games served as a powerful political symbol for Beijing. The event is being held the year after the Communist Party’s centenary, with President Xi Jinping overseeing its maneuver, having also led the bidding process. But scholars said China is struggling with repeating its feat in 2008 and boosting its soft power. In the words of a Chinese historical philosopher Xu Guoqi, “Basically, at that time, Beijing tried so hard to convey to the world that a new China has emerged: rich and powerful one which is cosmopolitan. China wants to use these Games to convey to the world that the world is supposed to embrace China, to accept China as an equal, as a powerful nation on Earth. Apart from the geopolitical hostilities, the Covid-19 pandemic and the highly contagious Omicron variant have troubled the Olympic excitement. The Winter Olympics is also a timely opportunity for Beijing to show that it has made China “moderately prosperous”, which is the much-publicized poverty-alleviation goal the Communist Party set itself to achieve by its centenary. The political and pandemic controversies would fade into the background after the Games begin because the public would focus on the performances of the athletes, just as they did in 2008.

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