- Ski star Eileen Gu in political minefield
- NFTs – only under Beijing’s control
- Xi instructs on COVID situation in Hong Kong
- China expands offshore oil production
- Investment screening scares off investors
- CATL plans more overseas locations
- Olympic ticker: no precious metal and freezing temperatures
- Johnny Ehrling on China’s numbers magic and the effect on the West
- Profile: lawyer Patrick Heid on changes in Shanghai
China has defended the apolitical Winter Olympics fairy tale for years. On Thursday, just three days before the end of the masquerade, the veils finally came off on the home stretch. A spokeswoman for the organizing committee BOCOG told the international press that the island state of Taiwan is an “inseparable part” of the People’s Republic and called the evidence of systematic forced labor by Uyghurs in Xinjiang a “lie”.
The statements were a slap in the face for the International Olympic Committee. For so long, the association with its German president Thomas Bach had placed itself protectively in front of the host country, parroting Beijing’s propaganda and, in the case of Peng Shuai, even refraining from asking China’s leadership for clarification.
How things stand with the numbers around the Winter Games remains a black box. Johnny Erling reveals how everyone from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to IOC chief Thomas Bach, as well as major companies and investors, have been gullibly seduced by China’s magic of big numbers coupled with even bigger promises.
The most controversial Winter Games of modern times are also increasingly becoming a political minefield for up-and-coming star Eileen Gu. After accusations of betrayal in the US, there is now resentment in China about the privileged life of the 18-year-old athlete, who apparently has both passports in her pocket – Gu continues to avoid the question of her citizenship. Christiane Kühl wonders: Is the Eileen Gu hype already over? Because even in the People’s Republic, criticism of the high-flyer from California is increasing in the social networks. To at least get on the leadership in Beijing’s good side, Gu gave her first Olympic interview to the magazine of the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party.
China’s tech giants are also using the Winter Games to get the government on their side in a major venture: No sooner had the Beijing Winter Olympics begun than Alibaba unveiled a series of Olympic NFTs. The “Non-Fungible Tokens” are booming in the People’s Republic because they fuel hopes of big profits in a short time, as Ning Wang reports. Companies like Alibaba and Tencent are jumping on the bandwagon, worried about missing out on the next big digital trend. However, NFTs also function as speculative objects – and that is anything but welcome in Beijing. Will the regulators intervene here soon?
Eileen Gu in the maelstrom of geopolitics
If it’s up to the exceptional athlete Eileen Gu, then sport alone will be the focus at the Olympics in Beijing. On Tuesday, she already won two medals, gold in big air and silver in slopestyle. Today, Thursday, she won the qualification in the halfpipe, it is her parade discipline. The medals will be decided on Friday. But the Chinese-American ski freestyle ace is getting more and more entangled in political controversies. On the one hand, this is due to clumsy to ignorant behavior. But the geopolitical system conflict between the West and China also plays a role. An identity both as Chinese and US-American seems impossible in these times. The home country of Gu’s mother is not just any country but an emerging great power that is under fire in the West for its human rights violations.
In this environment, trying to simply be an apolitical athlete during the most controversial Olympic Games in recent history is a hopeless endeavor. Especially after Eileen Gu had consciously decided to win medals and prestige for this very great power.
In the USA, Eileen Gu felt the force of her decision even before the Games. Critics spoke of “betrayal”. There, a corresponding hashtag was trending in social media for a long time. Users demanded that she gets kicked out of the US, that her admission to Stanford University is taken away, or reviled her in far worse ways. The conservative TV channel Fox News called her the “ungrateful child of America”. Another accusation is that Gu puts profit and fame above respect for human rights. She allowed herself to be instrumentalized by China at the Olympics and was thus the new face of communist oppression.