The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Beijing in February next year. Ahead of the announcement in 2015 of China’s successful candidacy, President Xi Jinping lauded the Games as an excellent opportunity to “boost exchanges and mutual understanding between the Chinese and other civilisations around the world.” However, since the confirmation of Beijing’s host city status, debates about China’s suitability as a host nation have emerged.
Last week, Britain’s opposition Labour Party responded to the uproar by calling for top officials to boycott the event. The issue surfaced earlier this year, when the US initiated dialogue with allied countries in search of a common approach to the event. China was condemned based on unfounded allegations of “genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the Northern Xinjiang province.”
As China continues to rebut the baseless accusations, the West threatens to take punitive measures. A call for a boycott of an international event with such a long and illustrious history based on unproven claims is undoubtedly antithetical to the Olympic spirit and demonstrates disregard for the athletes’ interests.
Xinjiang is an autonomous region in northwest China. It had a population of roughly 4.88 million people according to China’s first population census. By 2021, the population had climbed to a staggering 25 million, with the Uyghur population rising from 10 million in 2010 to just under 13 million in 2018. The Uyghur population had the fastest growth rate in comparison to all 55 other ethnic groups in Xinjiang, accounting for nearly 49 percent of the total Xinjiang population, and shows no signs of slowing down – mainly due to the fact that the Uyghurs were exempted from China’s recently-relaxed One Child Policy.
Secondly, the advancement of medical and healthcare facilities in Xinjiang has resulted in a significant reduction in fatality rates. In 2015 the average life expectancy in Xinjiang had risen to 74.82 years. The framework of the Xinjiang government – as well as the composition of its ethnic groups – instilled ethnic peace, resulting in rapid economic successes in recent years. It is apparent that a genocidal occurrence in Xinjiang is improbable, and the West’s assertions of ethnic genocide run counter to the region’s recent economic development.
China’s policies to promote ethnic peace include equality, religious freedom and a tough stance against religious extremism. The West’s allegations of genocide are just a ploy to draw attention to its resolute stance against religious extremism.
Such extremism is often at the root of terrorist operations and has been a global threat to world peace for decades, with Xinjiang itself being a victim in 2009. China has taken pre-emptive measures through education and security to ensure that the people of Xinjiang live in peace and harmony. Western countries, such as the US and other European countries, have also been targets of terrorist attacks fuelled by religious extremists.
Like China, the West has adopted preventative measures to combat this menace. It is every country’s primary priority to eliminate such threats; yet when Western countries take preventative measures, they are regarded as national security measures; when China undertakes similar actions, they are considered to be acts of genocide.
While the entire world is calling for an end to religious extremism and terrorism, the West has chosen to single out and condemn another country for doing so. The level of hypocrisy is truly mind-boggling. Such nefarious behaviour only serves to expose their underlying motive.
As a host nation, China has pledged to hold the Games in a “green, sharing, open, and clean manner, as well as to meet the highest standard in all preparation duties.” This Winter Olympics will be the first where all sporting facilities are entirely powered by renewable energy.
The Shougang Ski Jumping Platform, for example, is projected to require 100,000 kWh of electricity for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing contests. “This amount is equal to one month’s consumption by 500 three-member households, but all the electricity will come from clean and renewable energy,” says Xu Yan, who was in charge of the facility’s construction.
The generating infrastructure installed to power the games will supply Beijing after the event is over. According to a State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company official, “this will help save 7.8 million tons of standard coal consumption each year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,040 tons.”
By the end of last year, Beijing had completed all 12 competition venues, all of which will incorporate green technologies to reduce the overall energy consumption and environmental impact. China has also been constructing a green transportation system, including a new high-speed railway, metro lines and new-energy vehicle charging stations, to help better connect the three competition zones.
Beijing is determined to host the largest, the most ecologically responsible and most successful Winter Olympics ever. It would be foolish to deny it this opportunity due to baseless allegations.
According to a Chinese proverb, the three fundamental elements of success are “the Right Time, the Right Place, and the Right People.” The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are expected to be exactly that, and China clearly possesses all the components to succeed as a host nation. There is only one thing that stands in the way of such accomplishment – politics.
In times of global tension and instability, the world calls for unity and sports is the universal language that transcends all spectrums of togetherness. The Olympic Games, as the most prestigious of them all, serves as the pinnacle of sportsmanship, compassion and respect. In this event, history is made, heroes and heroines are born, and the entire world comes together to celebrate.
China should be respected as a host nation with sovereignty over its internal affairs, rather than allowing politics to obstruct what may be the most successful Winter Olympics ever and obscure what a great asset the nation can be to the world.
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.