China’s recent offer to the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccinations for Olympic athletes in Tokyo is an important reminder of soft power opportunities the Chinese government is taking advantage of.
That commitment also reflects the West’s flawed nationalistic beliefs that presume yesterday’s answers can solve today’s problems. Stuck in the past, the West watches as China becomes ever more relevant on the global stage.
Of course, we in the United States want to bash the disaster that was the Trump administration. However, when you consider what also has taken place of late in multiple European nations, you realize China is too often alone in being a world leader.
While the leaders of these backward thinking nations want to close borders, argue about culture wars, escalate fascism or limit economic growth for the most vulnerable of their populations, Beijing responds with ideas that benefit the globe.
You might think that making one international sporting event safer is not a big deal. But remember, regardless of whether international audiences can attend this summer’s or next winter’s Olympics, there will be no Games if the IOC cannot keep the athletes, coaches and staff safe.
Beijing realizes that. The IOC does as well.
China’s critics will rehash tired ideas in response to the country’s offers of goodwill. In doing so, these critics fail to recognize many of the policies pursued by their governments require massive overhaul. The irony also is lost as these hostile voices fail to see the commitment Beijing is making to improve the health and welfare of its people on and near the mainland, while economic and social conditions flounder elsewhere.
The next time a Chinese official reminds an international colleague to stop meddling in China’s affairs perhaps that Chinese figure should then detail the list of problems needed to be addressed in that colleague’s homeland. Actually, no. These men and women remain adamant they have all the answers; let them persist in their arrogance.
China is pursuing a 21st century agenda, and it includes using the country’s resources to be an ambassador in Asia and beyond. You may react how you wish, but you also must accept that China will go it alone if the West is unable or unwilling to be a partner in these efforts.