China kicks off Year of Tiger with 'full confidence, courage and optimism'
Published: Feb 07, 2022 10:11 PM Updated: Feb 08, 2022 11:34 AM
Workers weld auto parts in a factory in Weifang, East China's Shandong Province on February 7, 2022, the first working day of the Year of the Tiger. Photo: VCG

Workers weld auto parts in a factory in Weifang, East China's Shandong Province on February 7, 2022, the first working day of the Year of the Tiger. Photo: VCG

China kicked off the first working day in the Year of the Tiger on Monday after the national Spring Festival holiday, boosted by stellar displays of athleticism at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games adding to national pride and high morale for the new year, with the stock market rally reflecting confidence and optimism for a strong economic performance in the year ahead. 

Analysts said that only a country with unshakable solidarity and powerful capability in mobilization and organization over its society would be able to handle and accomplish such a great mission under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When some Western major countries seem anxious, disappointed and pessimistic, China is sending a completely different signal of hope with concrete actions and convincing performances across multiple fields. 

Encouraging performances

Chinese people have enjoyed a series of surprises and triumphs by the athletes of Team China at the end of the Spring Festival holiday on Sunday. 

The Chinese women's national soccer team triumphed in a dramatic match at the AFC Women's Asian Cup in Navi Mumbai, India on Sunday night, coming from two goals down to beat South Korea 3-2, winning a record-extending ninth championship title since 2006. 

The hashtag "Chinese women's football team wins AFC Women's Asian Cup" has received 1.28 billion views while the hashtag of "Cheer for Chinese women's football team tonight" had 420 million views as of press time on social media platform Sina Weibo. 

Adding to the encouraging performances by Team China athletes in the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022, such as the women's ice hockey squad who beat Japan in an intense game that ended with a shootout and the short track speed skating team who won the first gold medal for the country, the phenomenal heat of patriotism has gone viral on the social media in recent days. The heat also greatly affected sales of the official mascot of the Beijing 2022 - Bing Dwen Dwen.

In other countries which held Olympic Games with serious divergences between the government and society, such as Tokyo 2020, organizers and officials of those countries failed to make all groups in the country fully support the Games, and it is especially difficult during the pandemic. But China shows a totally different picture this time, as the whole country shows great solidarity, high enthusiasm and full support, observers noted.

The reason is that China can transform the achievements of holding a successful Olympics into benefits that can be shared by all of society, and everyone can take what they need from it, which means the event is welcomed across the country, said analysts, noting that China gained valuable experience in 2008, and it will do even better this time. 

Chen Xin, a professor at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said the new infrastructure like the high-speed railway line that links Beijing, Yanqing District and Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province will benefit a large number of people who live far from downtown Beijing. 

"New consumption on ice and snow tourism and winter sports will bring huge economic potentials and the usage and land values in these regions will surely rise after the Games. This is how the socialist system of China works under the logic of common prosperity," Chen noted.

Confidence for economy

Encouraged by Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese stocks rallied on the first trading day of the Year of the Tiger, with Shanghai Composite Index jumping 2.03 percent on Monday and the Shenzhen Component Index rising 0.96 percent. 

Infrastructure, cement, steel and coal surged remarkably among the rises of over 3,400 shares on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses. 

Even if some are concerned that China's economy is facing headwinds after its GDP slowed to 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021 and the Omicron variant battered several cities, the large slate of orders and stay-put policies with favorable rewards encouraged workers to stay on the production line during the week-long Spring Festival holidays. 

A disinfectant producer in Southwest China's Chongqing told the Global Times that their workers did not rest over the holiday because "there were too many orders to complete." Any worker who worked during the holidays received triple pay. 

The State Power Investment Group Co told the Global Times on Monday that more than 7,000 workers chose to celebrate the Spring Festival at the workplace of the Guohe No.1 nuclear power plant in East China's Shandong Province. 

Despite uncertainties lingering this year after China achieved a record-breaking foreign trade volume of $6.05 trillion in 2021, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and more trade deals signed between China and Latin America, China and the Middle East and China and Africa will help enhance China's foreign trade, said Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association.

"2022 marks the first year of the implementation of the RCEP. Many ASEAN countries, Japan and South Korea may wish to expand trade with China in order to boost the region's business and trade links," Tian noted.

Start the new journey

"When a country is going up, when it has self-belief, it can reach out to everyone. Only that sort of country can produce the spectacular event (opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022) I went to last night," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told the Global Times on Saturday in an exclusive interview.

Khan's remarks praised the high morale of the Chinese people based on powerful national strength, as well as the advanced social governance system of the country, said experts. 

China is probably the only country in the world that is able to host Olympic Games amid epidemic and handle related diplomatic activities including hosting 32 dignitaries at the same time, analysts noted.

Whether the patriotism sparked by sports among the internet, or the full support toward the Beijing 2022 across the country and the stock market rally, all of these show that Chinese people and the government share a consensus - "to keep opening-up, to boost connection with the world," said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

China does not just maintain diplomatic interactions with its close partners and "old friends" like Russia, Pakistan or Serbia whose heads of state came to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, but continues to communicate with Western countries like the US and the UK, and not just with the governments, but also with NGOs and members of royal family.  

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday sent a congratulatory message to Queen Elizabeth II on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the British throne.

Noting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-UK diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, Xi expressed his hope that the two sides will take this opportunity to deepen friendship and mutual trust, expand exchanges and cooperation, and work together to promote international solidarity.

Xi also recently sent a letter in reply to Adam Foster, president of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, urging the US organization to help promote friendship between the two nations, according to the Xinhua News Agency on Monday. 

Noting that the new year is the Year of the Tiger, Xi in his Chinese Lunar New Year address on January 31 said traditional Chinese culture sees the tiger as the king of animals and a symbol of strength, bravery and fearlessness, urging people to write a new chapter of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

From sports to public opinion on social media; from the economy to the major diplomatic events at home, China is embracing the Year of the Tiger with a spirit of "strength, bravery and fearlessness," experts said. 

More people around the world, especially in Western countries like the US, will eventually realize that containment, competition and bullying will not stop the rejuvenation of this nation, and the opening-up of China will not be affected by their unilateral crackdowns based on their Cold War mentality, Li noted.