Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and host a welcome banquet for at least 32 foreign heads of state, heads of government, royals and heads of state. international organizations, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Friday. Such a large number of foreign leaders at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics – an unprecedented offline gathering of top leaders since the pandemic – underscores China’s ability to unite others in these difficult times, which also signals the global community’s widely shared support and expectations for the Games and completely defies the insignificant voices of the US-led Western clique by calling for a “diplomatic boycott of the Games”, experts said.
It will also be China’s first domestic diplomacy this year, as through bilateral activities, countries are expected to increase consensus and strengthen relations with China by celebrating the Olympics and Chinese New Year, the most traditional Chinese holiday. important.
Invited heads of state, heads of government and royals include six from Europe, five from Central Asia, three from the Middle East, two from South America and others from Asia, the Pacific and Africa, according to the list. published on the ministry’s website.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was listed as the first head of state on the list and was also the first foreign leader to be confirmed to attend last year. Some experts consider him the most important guest considering that there is no limit to Sino-Russian friendship and considering the current situation.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, UN Secretary General AntÃ³nio Guterres and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus are among the heads of international organizations who will be present.
In July, fewer than 30 heads of state and other officials of similar stature attended the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony, which was the smallest on record for a recent Olympics, Japan News reported last year.
As the Beijing Winter Olympics enter the seven-day countdown, there is growing enthusiasm and support for the Games, which is reflected not only in the number of participants, but also in the voice community of the international community that is looking forward to the Games – the first one will be held as planned amidst the pandemic, bringing new hope and momentum to the world after two years of battling COVID-19.
Against the backdrop of the rampant spread of the Omicron variant around the world, these leaders chose to come to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and overcame many difficulties, which showed their sincerity in supporting firmly on China and the Olympics, Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.
Holding the Winter Olympics as scheduled under the current pandemic also showed China’s contribution to the world in promoting global unity, trust and joint work to defeat the coronavirus and achieve development. shared, Mr. Ruan noted.
For example, to comply with epidemiological security measures amid the continued rampage of the virus, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov switched to remote work ahead of his upcoming visit to China, the president’s press office said on Monday.
The large number of foreign guests in Beijing is also a strong response to tactics used by a few Western countries and the United States to call for a “boycott” of the Games, highlighting the boycott’s failure and unpopularity, Ruan noted.
The first group of 20 athletes from the Latvian delegation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics pose for a photo at Riga International Airport during a media event in Riga, Latvia, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo: Xinhua
Circle of Friends of China
Ding Xiaoxing, director of the Eurasia Institute of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that 32 visiting dignitaries at the Winter Olympics show that international society recognizes and supports China’s foreign policy and multilateralism. .
Amid the impact of the pandemic, China has offered fewer invitations to world leaders. But there were still leaders who voluntarily offered to come, Ding said, noting that there would be more visiting leaders if China sent out invitations to the wider community.
In addition to South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-Seug, who will attend the opening ceremony and related activities, South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee will lead a government delegation to the next Games, according to the media.
These high expectations are also widely shared by a growing number of officials from foreign countries and representatives of athletes and sports groups. For example, photos and videos circulating on social media showed that the American and Canadian teams left for Beijing, and groups of athletes expressed their enthusiasm.
The Winter Olympics will be China’s premier domestic diplomacy event in early 2022, with countries expected to deepen relations with China through high-level meetings, Ding said.
For example, the leaders of the five Central Asian countries will come to China for the Beijing Games – 10 days after a virtual summit between the leaders of China and the five countries on January 25, showing the friendship between China and its neighbors over the past three decades. The leaders’ visit to China will help further strengthen relations and facilitate future cooperation, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative, analysts said.
World leaders gather at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT
The Winter Olympics will be held during the Chinese New Year so that foreign dignitaries can enjoy Chinese traditions.
Of these leaders, Putin was the first foreign leader last year to confirm his attendance at the Beijing Olympics, and the meeting between Xi and Putin will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since the start of the pandemic.
“The Xi-Putin summit will draw global attention next week with great significance not only for leading bilateral relations in 2022, but also for expressing multilateralism and opposing petty cliques dividing the international community,” he said. Ding, noting that the two leaders are also expected to exchange views on important international issues such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflicts.
Meeting the two at the Beijing Winter Olympics will also be a promise fulfilled eight years after Xi’s appearance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, experts said.
The presence of these leaders also showed that they hope China will successfully host the Games and have confidence in China. Some leaders will come to watch the Beijing Olympics even if their countries have no athletes in the Winter Games because they know the importance of the Games and show their support for sportsmanship, Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of International Affairs and Strategic Studies of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.
“The sincerity of these countries stands in contrast to the miserable actions of a few countries,” she said.