The 2022 Winter Olympics began in Beijing on February 4 with a spectacular ceremony which organizers said used 200 technologies, including 5G, AI, high-speed rail and new energy with management. space to describe China’s progress from an assembly line of manufactured goods to “intelligent manufacturing”. Organizers all praised the facilities provided for the games, although some attendees from Russia, Sweden, Finland and other countries had a different story to tell about the “quality of food and living conditions”. quarantine,” as many of them tested positive for Covid on arriving at Beijing airport, according to reports.
The excitement was further marred when the US, UK, Canada and other countries observed a diplomatic boycott of the games to protest China’s human rights abuses. While 105 heads of state attended the 2008 games, the number fell to around 32 this time around, most of them authoritarian leaders. If Beijing had a grouse that the West had politicized the games for its “baseless accusations”, it was not far behind as it singled out Qi Fabao, a PLA regimental commander who was implicated in the Galwan clash as a torchbearer and a Xinjiang athlete Dinigeer Yilamujiang to light the Olympic flame. These shenanigans sparked numerous protests, including the boycott of the opening and closing ceremonies by the Indian charge d’affaires in Beijing.
The focus of all eyes at the opening ceremony was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who flew to Beijing after speaking about his confrontation with the United States over Ukraine and the NATO’s eastward expansion. In their joint statement, China and Russia spoke of a new era of global governance underpinned by the UN-based international architecture (in which they have equal influence due to their permanent membership in the UN Security Council). UN) instead of a US-dominated international order. They exchanged mutual support with China opposing further NATO enlargement, backing Russia’s proposals to create “binding long-term security guarantees in Europe” and Russia confirming that “Taiwan is an alienable part of China and opposes any form of its independence”.
Although China and Russia have agreed to support each other for the “protection of their fundamental interests”, important differences remain between them because China would not want to alienate the countries of Eastern Europe which are its main economic partners in establishing a Russian sphere of influence there. . Several countries like the United States, Japan and others oppose China’s forced annexation of Taiwan. In addition, many countries such as Japan, Germany, Brazil, India and others have strong reservations about the post-WWII United Nations architecture, which does not reflect the current realities of a global world power.
One of the highlights of Putin’s visit was the agreement on the establishment of the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline to be built by Gazprom, which would supply an additional 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to the north of the China. As China is phasing out its coal-fired power plants, it aims to increase the proportion of natural gas in its energy mix to 15% by 2030, from 10% currently, and reduce its dependence on maritime supplies from from Australia and other countries. Unsure of sanctions on its gas supply to Europe following its confrontation with the United States, Russia was also looking for a secure long-term partner for its gas purchase.
Putin said Russia is now supplying advanced technology weapons to China; these included SU-35 fighter jets (4.5 generation), S-400 air defense system, M-171 transport helicopters and Kilo-class submarines. With the threat of CAATSA sanctions by the United States, Russian arms buyers have dried up and China has become a stable customer. Russia has avoided selling ground combat systems, strategic bombers and land attack missiles for fear of arming a potential future adversary. There are also fears that China will adapt these weapons to conquer foreign markets (for example, the Yuan-class submarines sold to Pakistan by China are partly based on Russia’s Kilo class).
The presence of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Beijing Olympics provided further confirmation that while maintaining the pretext of not joining any bloc, Pakistan has moved closer to Beijing. Imran began his tour supporting China over the human rights of Uyghur Muslims, but his business motives soon became transparent as media reported that he had traveled there to curry several favors from Beijing, i.e. another $3.14 billion deposit from China to stabilize Pakistan’s foreign exchange. situation, a $4 billion loan renewal and $4.5 billion trade finance facility.
He also wanted more investment and relocation of Chinese industries to special economic zones (SEZs) established in Pakistan. To curry favor with the Chinese government, Islamabad has agreed to provide $11 million in compensation to the families of 10 Chinese personnel who were killed in a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attack in Dasu in Pakhtunkhwa province on July 14, 2021. Imran met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and signed an industrial cooperation framework agreement aimed at increasing investment by Chinese companies; he also met with President Xi Jinping but there was no information whether he had accepted Pakistan’s requests for additional financial assistance. Given that attacks by the TTP and other groups against Pakistani security forces and Chinese personnel have intensified in recent days, Chinese companies are said to be cautious about embarking on new projects in Pakistan.
The main purpose of the Winter Olympics was to project China’s soft power, to tell the world how it had achieved economic prosperity and rivaled the only superpower, the United States now. China’s relations with its neighbors and major powers have deteriorated due to the aggressive and expansionist policies of its leaders. It is an open question how much soft power China would gain by hosting such cultural extravaganzas in the absence of a change in its above policies.