There is always an inextricable link between sports and politics. On April 10, 1971, a U.S. table tennis delegation arrived in Beijing, becoming the first Americans to be allowed into China since 1949. The move was called Ping-Pong Diplomacy, which caused an impactful transformation and revived the political relationship between the United States and China. Iran and the United States once used the FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to create Soccer Diplomacy and eased the hostility between the two countries. Cricket-loving Pakistan and India have broken diplomatic deadlocks by hosting friendly cricket matches. Thus, it seems that sports are like an efficient lubricant for national relations.
Canada-China relations have been at a freezing point for more than two years, and a warming up is an irresistible trend and the common aspiration of the people, and will do both sides no harm.
- The Thawing of Canada-China Relations is irresistible and accords with the common aspiration of the people
American think tanks the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Marshall Fund conducted a poll of attitudes in 11 countries, on a range of topics such as relations with China. The report found that “in Canada, the US, Germany and the UK, younger respondents hold a remarkably cooperative view on their country’s relationship with China.” In both Canada and Germany, 42 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 saw China as a partner, compared with their respective national averages of 27 and 28 per cent, the survey found.
Zhu Zhiqun, a professor of international relations and director of the China Institute at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said the younger generation grew up in the digital age and were more cosmopolitan. Many young people in America and Europe have direct experience of interacting with their peers from China at school or at work. As a result, their views of China and the Chinese people tend to be much broader and more balanced.
Young people are the future leaders of the world, and the objective views of young Canadians on Canada-China relations are a sign of a thawing relationship between the two countries. Both Canada and China should encourage more interaction between young people so that countries can work together to address common global challenges.
- Canada-China cooperation has immense potential, and the Beijing Winter Olympics will boost business, culture, sports and politics development between Canada and China
On May 6, 2021, Cong Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada attended an online seminar organized by the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy in Canada and delivered a speech. Ambassador Cong said that Canada and China are neither entangled in historical issues nor have major conflicts of interest. The two countries have complementary economies, are committed to promoting free trade and are natural partners.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, Canada’s exports to China grew by 8.1 per cent in 2020, while Canada’s total foreign exports fell by approximately 12 per cent, reflecting the continued resilience of the Canada-China economic and trade relationship.
With 1.4 billion people and a middle-income group of 400 million, the Chinese market has a huge economic volume and the Chinese public has a large demand for foreign quality products. Canada and China have great potential for cooperation in energy resources, clean technology, modern agriculture, financial services, health care, higher education and other areas. Meanwhile, China is stepping up its preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will provide opportunities for the two countries to cooperate in winter sports and related industries.
Therefore, Canada and China should remove distractions, focus on cooperation, take a longer-term view and address the relevant issues currently facing both sides, take practical measures to rebuild mutual trust, and create conditions to push Canada-China relations back on track and further unleash the potential for cooperation between the two countries.
- The Olympic and Paralympic movements are unique means for the promotion of peace and development, and the politicization of sport is contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Charter, which will certainly harm the interests of athletes
David Shoemaker, CEO and Secretary-General of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Karen O’Neil, CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, published an op-ed article titled “Beijing 2022: A Boycott Is Not the Answer”. Talking about critics’ calls to prevent Canadian athletes from participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics, the two said, “The Olympic and Paralympic movements are unique means for the promotion of peace and development, for uniting rather than dividing. Paralympic sport specifically showcases the achievements of athletes with disabilities to a global audience. The ‘Olympic Truce’ stands as a remarkable achievement considering what divides the world. When our Olympians and Paralympians compete in Beijing, Team Canada will showcase Canadian values and help build essential bridges between nations, not walls.”
Canada is an important member of the international Olympic family and has a large number of elite athletes who are passionate about the Olympic cause and have made positive contributions to its development. Politicizing sport is contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and will harm the interests of athletes from Canada, China and other countries, as well as the international Olympic cause. Matt Dunstone is from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, and his curling team is one of the best in the world. He is currently trying to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. In an interview, he said that the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “People work four, eight, 12 years, putting everything they’ve got into it, their life on hold, to go. If the Olympics were tomorrow and I was told we were Team Canada, I would be hopping on that plane instantly.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, the world needs more firm confidence and solidarity. China’s hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics as scheduled will not only promote the thawing of Canada-China relations, but will also contribute to the development of the world. It is foreseeable that in 2022, the world will witness China’s promise to keep its word and share a wonderful sports feast. Beijing, as the only international “double Olympic city” to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, will make a unique contribution to the international Olympic movement.
Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Oil the Wheels of the Cordial Relations between Canada and China
With just 200 days left until 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin, China is in full swing preparing for the grand sports gathering. With the top athletes, Team Canada is well under way in its preparation for the coming Beijing Olympic Winter Games. There is no doubt that this sports event will bring the two countries closer.
- China is making steady progress to present the world a safe and excellent sports event.
China is taking considerable anti-epidemic efforts to make a safe and healthy environment for athletes to compete and travel. Venues, infrastructures, and supporting facilities including the Ice Ribbon, the Shougang Ski Jumping Platform, National Indoor Stadium, the expressways and high-speed railways linking Beijing to other competition zones have all been completed. Service facilities including the National Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be hosted and the Olympic villages in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou able to accommodate 6,630 athletes and team officials are all already for operation. Beijing is the world’s first city to host both Olympic Summer and Winter Games. At the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, there was a great outpouring of nostalgic feelings for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The video of the “Full Opening Ceremony from Beijing 2008” in YouTube hit a total of 13 million views. If history is any indication, China has the remarkable ability to present the world an epic Olympic sports event.
- Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will build up the momentum towards a more harmonious China-Canada relations.
As one of the giants in winter sports, Canada has hosted two Olympic Winter Games, and is home to 73 gold medalists of Olympic Winter Games. Chinese and Canadian sports communities enjoy a close and friendly relationship. In recent years, there have been more exchanges between the two countries in winter sports including ice hockey and curling. A few months ago, the Chinese curling team went to Calgary, a breath-taking place full of picture-postcard winter views, to attend the World Curling Championship. The Chinese team was so impressed by the service packages provided by the Canadian organizer. As countries with considerable experience in hosting world-class sports events, China and Canada can conduct more cooperative sports activities to for mutual improvement and win-win outcomes.
- Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games can serve as a catalyst for China and Canada to have more cooperation across all sectors.
China and Canada have long been indivisible trade partners. According to the “Canada-China Trade: 2020 Year in Review”, a report published by the University of Alberta. Although 2020 is a tumultuous year characterized by COVID-19-related disruption of trade flow, investment and global travel, the value of exports from Canada to China grew by 8.1%, while declining globally by 11.9%. Imports from China to Canada grew by 1.9%, compared with a near 10% decline globally. Canadian export of non-agglomerated iron ore to China even saw a surprising 103.1% jump in value. Other products including chemical wood pulp, canola seed, swine, canola oil all witnessed dramatic double-digit increase.
Canadian imports from China also secured equally wonderful performances. According to a report by the government of Canada, China is Canada’s second most important bilateral commercial partner. Canada’s imports from and exports to China are diverse by product, and the complexity of the traded products are at approximately the same level.Investment and the activity of multinational enterprises has been increasing rapidly between the two countries; however, the overall levels remain low compared with Canada’s investment relationships with other countries. The welfare of Canadians is enhanced by importing consumer goods from China. The imports of intermediate and capital goods, particularly electrical equipment, are important inputs to Canadian production.
With an already firm trading relationship, the Canadian people will have a broader picture and more knowledge of China through the coming Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. And this sports event will serve as a catalyst to push the trading relationship to the next level, and to boost people-to-people, commercial, cultural, and academic exchanges.
- The Olympic spirit recognizes no borders.
As hosts of Olympic Games, China and Canada believe firmly in the Olympic values of “friendship, excellence, respect, courage, determination, inspiration, and equality”. The two countries are also taking these values into their strive to be stronger and more responsible international members. Although peoples of the two countries speak different languages, they all understand the language of the Olympics,. The coming Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will definitely bring the two peoples closer. China and Canada should also seize this opportunity to cement their friendly relationship, join hands to rise to global challenges, and make the world a better place for all.
News-Europe David F Wang