The Star Late Edition

Strengthen­ing relations through Winter Olympics

Mutual trust, equality and respect will be celebrated in Beijing next year

- WESLEY SEALE Seale completed his PhD in Beijing, China

AS MOST of us do, we leave things for the last minute.

As result, after spending three years in Beijing, visiting the southern city of Kunming, the Terracotta Army near Xi’an, the Great Wall, and the skiing resort in Yanging, the Beijing National Stadium was on my to-do list for my last semester.

However, Covid-19 happened and these plans had to be shelved.

Each of these cultural sites holds a special significan­ce in the life of Chinese people.

For example, Beijing National Stadium, or the Bird’s Nest as it is informally called, is a stadium with a capacity of 91 000 and is said to be the world’s largest steel structure.

The most complex stadium ever constructe­d, the stadium is also on the north-south axis of the city and this is important for anyone who knows Beijing.

All the important sites are built on this axis, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven.

Built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympic­s, the stadium became symbolic for the Chinese people. It was symbolic of a nation that has able to defeat colonialis­m and hunger. As a bird leaves its nest after isolation, the Chinese had created a space and country for its people and future generation­s where they too could leave the nest and fly anywhere in the world.

At the dawn of its becoming a modern society in 2008, China was saying to the world, as Deng Xiaoping had said, China is open to the world, if the world is open to China.

But next year, when China hosts the Winter Olympics and Paralympic­s, it will be symbolic again for another reason.

After the defeat of Covid-19, China will once more host a spectacula­r event, as it did in 2008, displaying its ability to welcome the athletes and people of the world. Even more importantl­y, the message will be that one defeats difficulti­es such as Covid 19 by overcoming divisions and celebratin­g difference­s.

In late April, after visiting Beijing’s Yanqing district and speaking on the Winter Olympics, the secretary-general of the 40-member Shanghai Co-operation Organisati­on (SCO), Vladimir Norov, said that they “are sure that this Olympic Games will be very successful”.

Yanqing will host the sleigh and huge events of the Games.

Continuing with his remarks, Norov is reported to have said: “The principle of Shanghai spirit is mutual trust, equality and mutual respect. It is the respect for difference­s of cultures and civilisati­ons.”

The SCO, or Shanghai Pact, as it is informally known, was created as a political, economic and security alliance in 2001.

No doubt, the mutual trust, equality and respect will be celebrated in Beijing in 2022 when it hosts the Winter Olympics, for this is what the games have come to symbolise.

Yet another accomplish­ment for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic­s next year is that last week,the organisers, according China Daily, “held a workshop … in an effort to honour their commitment to carbon neutralisa­tion at the Games”.

As outlined in the Carbon Management Plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, a number of carbon emission reduction measures will be implemente­d to ensure an eco-friendly games.

These include ultra-low energy consumptio­n, using carbon dioxide for refrigerat­ing and ice-making, and spectators will be encouraged to travel by public transport to the events.

It would be great if by next year the trip back to Beijing could be made in order for me to attend not only the games but certainly visit those other spots, missed out on, as well.

What remains important though is that China implements, through hosting events such as these, its steadfast commitment to strengthen­ing people-to-people relations with the peoples of the world and appreciati­ng multicultu­ralism.

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