The Print: China can’t use sports as soft power for long. 2022 Winter Olympics looks set to fail

China has used sports for soft power purposes but it might be coming to an end. US President Joe Biden is considering boycotting the Winter Olympics.

Experts often question if China even exercises soft power like some countries in the English-speaking world do. China’s presence in sports, video games, and big-ticket movies is the hallmark of a different type of soft power. China believes in mixing its soft power with a hard economic power, which often subtly becomes coercion. Through the coercion tactics, Beijing has ensured Taiwan remains sidelined in international sporting events.

The 2008 Summer Olympics established China’s international legitimacy with very minimal opposition. Tibetan activists protested then, but the world turned a blind eye to the uprising in Lhasa. There has been a significant shift since 2008. ‘No Beijing 2022’ is a campaign led by Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Southern Mongolians, and Chinese rights activists. The #BoycottBeijing2022 has become a prominent social media trend on Twitter.

The 2008 Olympics was a personal statement for Xi Jinping, who was in-charge of organising it. The successful conclusion of the Olympics that year further elevated Xi’s status as a young and promising member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


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