FM responds with calm, confidence as Kishida says ‘no plan’ to attend Beijing 2022
Published: Dec 16, 2021 10:58 PM
Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry Photo: cnsphoto

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry Photo: cnsphoto

Chinese foreign ministry responded with calm and confidence on Thursday when asked to comment on Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's statement that he has no plan to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing at the moment. 

Kishida said on Thursday he has no plan to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing at the moment, taking what appeared to be a softer tone than "diplomatic boycott," Reuters reported.

In response, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the Beijing Winter Olympic Games is a grand gathering of athletes and fans from all over the world. "Any attempt to politicize sports runs counter to the spirit of the Olympic Charter. China is confident to host a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games," Wang stressed.

Kishida's remarks are not out of the ordinary as he has never signaled an intention to attend the Winter Games, and China needs not to expect his participation, Da Zhigang, director of Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Not sending senior officials is not really a surprise, but the Kishida government is trying to find excuses for the decision so it can "save face" and avoid being given a bad name for "breaking faith" as China gave its full support to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Da said. To this end, Kishida is likely to avoid using words such as "diplomatic boycott," instead citing reasons such as "Japan's position and its national interests."

If Kishida is wise he can make a conciliatory move such as sending Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to visit China, Da noted.

Some observers expressed concern over the stronger conservative forces in Japan that have been bashing China and hyping hostility in Japanese society. This will not only affect Kishida's decision over the Beijing 2022 issue but also the upcoming US-Japan "two-plus-two" talks, they noted.

Japan and the US have decided to hold a meeting of their foreign and defense ministers on January 7 in Washington to discuss major security issues, which will be the two nation's first "two-plus-two" talks since Kishida took office in October, Kyodo News quoted officials familiar with the plan as saying.

It is likely to be confirmed in the talks that the two countries' security alliance should be bolstered in new areas such as space and cybersecurity in the face of "China's military modernization and expansion," said the report.

If the 2+2 talks do go ahead in January, Kishida is likely to visit the US in February, as former Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga did in April after the last 2+2 talks in March, Da said.

The 2+2 talks would pave the way and set the tone for Kishida's visit to the US, Da said, noting that the talks have become a platform to provoke China. "The Taiwan question could again be the focus during the talks," Da predicted.