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Asian Games a chance for China to break the ice with sports diplomacy

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Asian Games a chance for China to break the ice with sports diplomacy

Can Beijing mend fences with its neighbours in Northeast Asia as host of the region’s sporting spectacular?Observers said there will be plenty of opportunities but warned there are risks and challenges to mixing sport and politicsDiplomacyShi JiangtaoPublished: 10:30pm, 29 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

With the biggest-ever Asian Games in full swing, host China has high hopes not only of dominating the medal table but also of softening its image and mending fences with its neighbours.

Major sporting events offer a chance to rebuild trust and bridge differences, but observers warned the task of rebuilding relations through the 19th Asiad – delayed for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic – may prove particularly daunting for Beijing.

Ties with China’s Northeast Asian neighbours are at a low point, amid the intensifying US-China feud, and there are also risks and challenges in mixing sport with politics, despite past successes, they said.

Ping-pong diplomacy famously helped to break the ice between China and the US in 1971 and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing is still regarded as China’s coming out party to the world.

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