onsdag 2. februar 2022

These Beijing Olympics Send a Much Darker Message

In 2008, the Summer Games appeared to be opening a window on an optimistic future, one in which China was a partner with the United States in an integrated global community. Here was a Communist government not aiming to overturn the U.S.-led world order (as the Soviet Union intended), but enmeshing itself in it. Those Olympics seemed a triumph of Washington’s policy of engagement with China. Activists disrupted the torch relay to protest Beijing’s ill treatment of Tibetans. But that didn’t stop then-President George W. Bush from attending the Games and meeting with China’s top leader at the time, Hu Jintao. China, as the Olympics seemed to highlight, was moving in the “right” direction: toward a more liberal society.

These Winter Games, by contrast, reveal an insular China in opposition to the current world order. In the past 14 years, China has gained power, wealth, and ambition—all sure to be on display in upcoming weeks. But with that has come rising nationalism and intolerance. This China wishes to dictate the terms of its relations with other nations, to ensure its interests predominate. That’s precisely how it’s managing the Winter Games. The world is not as welcome in China today as it was in 2008.