SEATTLE, Washington: For China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the most important result of the Games will likely be their impact on his domestic audience, as Chinese media coverage of the Games will be highly nationalistic and laudatory, aimed at impressing the Chinese people.
To this home audience, the spectacle of the Games reinforces government propaganda about China’s success and progress toward achieving the “Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
But I don’t predict the 2022 Games will have the same effect, either domestically or internationally, that the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics had, partially because the Winter Olympics are smaller and the weather is harsher, and partially because 2008 was the first time China hosted the Olympics.
In 2008, stunning opening ceremonies including 5,000 syncopated dancers telling a stylised story of 5,000 years of Chinese history astonished the international audience. The power of that first time cannot be repeated.
Nonetheless, China has spared no expense to prepare, with a report from Insider pegging the total cost “in excess of US$38.5 billion, 24 times the country’s initial budget of US$1.6 billion.”
As with everything China does, when it wants to occupy the centre stage internationally, it will put on a big show.
The domestic payoff of the Olympics matters because China will face a trying year in 2022. Xi is seeking an unprecedented third term as general-secretary of the Communist Party of China.
The nation’s economy is slowing. International opposition to China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and approach in Hong Kong and to its aggressive foreign policy is growing. Xi is hoping that the “bread and circuses” diversionary aspect of the Games will help him overcome the stresses of this year and advance his political standing.
Source: Channel News Asia