Fourteen years ago, China conducted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The games were a success, and the biggest beneficiary was Xi Jinping. He was Vice President of China and competing for the presidency with present Premier Li Keqiang. The successful Chinese Olympics debut encouraged and emboldened Xi in grabbing power. He had just learned to master the art of seizing the moment.
China has one party and two major factions. The Shanghai Gang constitutes people who rose to stature due to their association with Jiang Zemin. Xi developed connections with them while he was in Shanghai. Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL) is another faction that came to prominence with the rise of Hu Jintao. Hu was appointed General Secretary of the CCP and China’s President in 2002, replacing Jiang Zemin.
Xi was a princeling and son of a high-ranking People’s Liberation Army General. He had family ties with Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction. In 2012 when the time to replace Hu Jintao came, the CCP had two choices, the Shanghai gang’s choice Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao prodégé Li Keqian. Xi seemed to be more market-friendly and focused on protecting wealth better than Hu Jintao-affiliated comrades. However, Xi kept his cards close to his heart without disclosing how he would act economically or politically. This opaqueness contributed to his favourable reputation among both factions and facilitated his rise to the General Secretary’s post.
2022 Olympics and The Stakes
The bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games closed on 14 November 2013, with six cities in the fray. Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Krakow (Poland), Beijing (China), Lviv (Ukraine), and Almaty (Kazakhstan) were jostling to get a favourable result.
Surprisingly by the time the International Olympic Committee (IOC) elected the host city in July 2015, four out of six cities had withdrawn from the bidding. After spending millions on the bidding process, the withdrawing cities gave reasons like the rising costs of the Games and a lack of public support. What transpired behind the curtains is anyone’s guess. It is hilarious that finally, the 55th largest economy was challenging the second largest economy in the world. Or was it a fixed match? Beijing was, of course, the winner, and the rest is history.
What If Xi Gets Gold In Winter Olympics
From 1992 to 2014, four out of seven cities have lost money while organizing the Winter Olympics. As per a study conducted by Oxford University, the average cost overrun was 125.1 percent in the past seven Winter Olympics. Xi Jinping is not bothered even if the Beijing Olympics set another record.
Xi hasn’t planned the games because he loves skiing; it is all about consolidating his power. China never had any outstanding performers and ranked 16th on the medal table in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Beijing Olympics also do not show much hope, either. China’s ice hockey team has been in disarray. To salvage its reputation, China had to go on a buying spree. Today the team consists of mostly foreign players, eleven Canadian, three Americans, and a Russian. Only nine out of 24 players are Chinese.
Xi Jinping is so desperate to put up a great show that the Chinese diplomats aided in the defection of an 18-year-old American skier Eileen Gu. She was born and bred in the United States, but suddenly she became responsible for her mother’s country of origin, China, and received a higher call to help inspire millions of young people.
China is also splurging millions on social media influencers. In one such deal in January 2022, the Chinese government hired the US PR firm Vippi Media and paid $3,00,000. Their task was to enlist the influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers across social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unleased the Coronavirus on the world, they had not anticipated it would last for so long. The idea was to demonstrate that while the whole world had failed in front of Coronavirus, their medical systems fell apart, and economies plunged; China, with its superior system and technology, was able to recover and conduct a world-class event. The most important aspect of the Games was to have a lasting impact on the Chinese domestic audience. Of course, the world would have also looked up to China in awe.
Xi himself had made numerous inspection trips to the facilities in the hills of Beijing, indicating his eagerness and anxiety. Could the Chinese officials blinded by their desire to please the master and emerge victorious infect the visiting athletes? The Coronavirus has already infected over 200 athletes. Every foreign athlete going down brightens China’s chance to improve its medal tally. Emboldened Xi, with this fake and staged success, would come down heavily on his opponents and rival factions.
What If Xi Gets Booted Out
Xi doesn’t want anything coming in the path of successful Olympics. No protests, no demonstrations, or bad press, nothing. That also explains his “Zero COVID” strategy. Xi knows, before his time, it was always a collective decision; therefore, no individual leader was ever blamed for any failure. Each faction or group colluded with each other in the party’s name.
Things are different now. Xi absorbed every power centre into himself. In the name of the anti-corruption campaign, he has purged every opposition. Now Xi is the party, and the party is Xi. But in that process, he made himself accountable. Opposing factions must be down but not out. They closely observe bursting property bubbles, tumbling tech giants, mounting external debt, a stagnant economy, food shortages, and frayed international relations. As per the latest census and survey, China’s population will decline by 60 to 70 percent in the next 45 years. Xi has no answers for these issues. Opposition is sharpening their knives and waiting for his wrong moves. Yes-men change their loyalties keeping in mind which side the winds are blowing.
In 2012, Xi knew that he was not anyone’s first choice in the Shanghai faction or the CCYL. He was like, IK Gujral, Prime Minister of India, a compromise General Secretary. Since Xi was without any base, he made PLA his base. He took the support of the hawks in the PLA and purged Generals and Admirals who came in his path. The problem is that it is not clear if Xi controls the PLA or PLA controls Xi. One thing is amply clear, either PLA is running the show, or Xi is letting them run the show for his sake. PLA’s imprints on diplomacy are apparent. Their methods are fast replacing diplomacy with sharp power.
This is the exact problem Jia Qingguo, a former dean of Peking University’s International Relations school and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is cautioning against. As per him, China’s mindless spending on security is counterproductive; if China continues to act like this, it will sacrifice long-term interests for short-term gains and speed up to the fate of turmoil and collapse, just like the Soviet Union.
At this moment, China seems to be mirroring Japan of the 1930s. Japan was a country being run by a mindless and arrogant military. The fate of Japan and every other dictatorship is well known.
Failed Olympics Will Make Xi A Dangerous Man
China’s 20th Party Congress will be held in late 2022. Till then, Xi’s fate hangs in the balance. A successful Olympics may renew his ticket to a lifetime Presidentship, and failure will have dire consequences for China and the world.
Xi is spreading his message and intentions, loud and clear, across the globe. The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang (and yes, this is his name), in his first major interview, openly threatened the US in particular and the world in general with war and consequences.
If Xi wins, the world is stuck with a dictator for life; if he fails, he takes the world down with him. War would be Xi’s answer to the Chinese citizens and the world. No place would be safe, be it Australia, India, Japan, Taiwan, or any other place. Xi’s speeches in the past have been uncivilized, where he talks about cracking skulls and bloodshed. The world has long ignored these apparent signs.
If successful conduct of Summer Olympics in 2008 got Xi Jinping top job, failure of 2022 Winter Olympics could take it away. If the 2008 Olympics emboldened Chinese strongman to grab power, the 2022 Olympics is his tool to consolidate his power and be ‘Dictator for Life.’
During the CCDI national conference, Xi had stated, “We are brave in turning the knife inwards, cutting through bones to get rid of the poison so as to guarantee the longevity and ceaseless strengthening of the party.” Remember Xi is the party, and the party is Xi. So, who is cancer is but obvious.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Chanakya Forum. All information provided in this article including timeliness, completeness, accuracy, suitability or validity of information referenced therein, is the sole responsibility of the author. www.chanakyaforum.com does not assume any responsibility for the same.
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