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Monday, February 06, 2023, 11:50
Beijing Winter Games has left rich legacy
By Hussein Askary
Monday, February 06, 2023, 11:50 By Hussein Askary

Editor's note: The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have been a great success amid the difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic and also brought enthusiasm, strength and hope to the world. Driven by the Beijing Winter Olympics, ice and snow activities have gained popularity among Chinese people and ignited the public enthusiasm for participating in winter sports. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.

(MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY)

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games were much more than a global sports event. Analyzing the Beijing Winter Games' achievements one year later, we can safely say they were a lesson in people-to-people communication and friendship in a world which is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the tense politico-security situation in Europe.

The idea of clean competition with no antagonism — which is an Olympic tradition — is important to project the importance of amity and camaraderie onto the world of politics, because there is much we can learn about human nature when people are placed in a calm and amicable atmosphere which the organizers of the Beijing Winter Games succeeded in creating.

Through the Winter Games, China succeeded in showcasing the fruits of its peaceful economic rise. The artistic and technically amazing opening ceremony of the Games sent a message of friendship and peaceful coexistence to countries with different political, cultural and social structures, urging them to unite around the Olympic spirit. That was in stark contrast to the boycott calls given by some Western politicians and media organizations based on the dubious claims of human rights violations by China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Also, the decision of the foreign athletes and some world leaders, including those from Europe, to participate in the Winter Games conveyed a strong message that dialogue is always better than saber-rattling.

Among the fascinating achievements showcased by the Chinese side was conveying the true meaning of the green transition in all fields without jeopardizing the well-being and high living standard of the people.

Just a few months before the Winter Games, in September 2021 to be precise, China's State Council Information Office released a white paper titled "China's Epic Journey from Poverty to Prosperity", which said China has achieved the first centennial goal of eradicating extreme poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Lifting 800 million people out of abject poverty in four decades is indeed an unprecedented feat in human history.

People who expected to see a "poor China" during the Winter Games were instead surprised to see an incredibly advanced China. It was the first ever "carbon neutral" Olympic Games, in which all the energy consumed was generated using environmentally friendly resources and technology. While renewable energy was used to power all the Games' venues, the refrigeration systems in several stadiums used new carbon-neutral technologies for the first time in the Games' history.

Also, most of the transportation vehicles were low-carbon based, and climate-compensated because over years Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the two host cities for the Winter Games, had greened their landscape by planting more trees, creating denser forests on more than 47,000 hectares and 33,000 hectares respectively, which accounted for about 530,000 and 570,000 tons of carbon sequestration, according to a report by the International Olympic Committee.

The Beijing Winter Games could also be called the "high-tech Olympic Games" since 5G technology, cloud computing, big data, satellite navigation, artificial intelligence and other high-tech were used efficiently in different fields, making information dissemination and logistics services more efficient. Most of the transport, parking and transfer operations were facilitated by AI and complex 5G networking systems, while TV transmission to the rest of the world was flawless with extremely high definition thanks to the use of high-tech.

Another very important aspect of the Games was the transportation of the athletes, international media persons and the public to the venues from Beijing and other locations through the state-of-the-art, high-speed rail system that cut travel time from Beijing to Zhangjiakou from three hours to only 47 minutes.

The development of the high-speed railway, which started just before the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games with the inauguration of the first high-speed train between Beijing and Tianjin, has made China the world leader in high-speed trains. Staring from the mere 120-kilometer Beijing-Tianjin railway, China has now built more than 40,000 km of high-speed railways, which is almost equal to the circumference of the planet at the equator.

Another fascinating aspect of China's development is the Belt and Road Initiative, which is focused on building/improving infrastructure connectivity and fostering economic development among nations. In fact, it has already become a global phenomenon with about 150 countries joining it. The impact was seen in the decision of many leaders from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America to defy the calls for a diplomatic boycott of Beijing during the Winter Games to meet with Chinese leaders to discuss matters of common interest, especially the Belt and Road Initiative.

This show of solidarity with Beijing proved the futility of the West's boycott call with the aim of isolating China. Besides being an imprudent and morally questionable issue, decoupling from China is well-nigh impossible given that it is now an indispensable part of the global economy and international relations.

Between the Beijing Summer and Winter Olympics, China became the world's second-largest economy and the biggest manufacturing country and the largest contributor to global economic growth. And the Belt and Road Initiative perfectly symbolizes China's policy of peaceful cooperation and win-win cooperation to achieve the common goals of humankind.

Nothing symbolizes friendly competition and mutual respect better than the Olympic spirit. Similarly, there can be no better representative of a community with a shared future for mankind than China. By organizing the 2022 Winter Olympics, China proved that it is indeed a world leader when it comes to peace and friendship, and sent a clear message that it is ready to share the fruits of its epic economic rise with other countries.

The author is vice chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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