As of Feb. 8, China ranked first with three gold and two silver medals, totaling five. According to analyst Chen Zhengjia from New Talk, to win the most medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics, China used the following tactics:
First, hire foreign players to naturalize as Chinese nationality
China has been recruiting foreign athletes of Chinese descent in several sports over the last few years in its quest for success in the Winter Olympics. One of the most notable athletes is Eileen Gu, a mixed Chinese and American skier. Nicknamed the “Frog Princess,” she is arguably the best Winter Olympic athlete.
Twitter-like Chinese social media Weibo is full of congratulations. However, Zhu Yi, a Chinese-American mixed-race figure skater who also gave up her American citizenship to join the Chinese team, was treated very differently than Eileen Gu. Zhu Yi fell in both the women’s team competition and single-free skating. The consecutive mistakes had her mercilessly criticized by Chinese netizens.
Many foreign athletes are naturalized as Chinese nationals and represent China. For example, there are 25 Chinese men’s ice hockey players, of which 19 are “foreign naturalized players” born in foreign countries. 11 are Canadian, seven are American, and one is Russian. They eat Chinese food and live in Chinese culture, so they have a particular affinity for China.
In an interview with Reuters, Chicago-born defender Jack Kellios said, “since we’ve been over here for three years, you start to feel a closeness to China.
“We’ve been eating Chinese food, living the Chinese culture so there’s a certain closeness you feel with China and you start to feel you want to win for them.”
All the foreign-born players have been given Chinese names and wear red and yellow uniforms.
Kellios is listed on the team sheet with a Chinese name—Jieke Kailiaosi.
Second, hiring foreign master coaches regardless of cost
Analyst Chen Zhengjia said that China recruited excellent foreign coaching talent in addition to foreign athletes. For example, the Chinese men’s snowboarder Su Yiming, who is the favorite to win the gold medal, is under the tutelage of the Japanese national team coach Yasuhiro Sato. As the coach of Chinese players, Sato Yasuhiro once said that there had been entanglements, but some things can transcend national boundaries.
Former South Korean short-track speed skating legend Ahn Hyun-soo also served as the technical coach of the Chinese team after naturalizing in Russia. In the 1,000-meter short-track speed skating competition on Feb. 8, South Korean players Huang Daxian and Li Junrui, who had previously placed first and second in the semifinals, were disqualified, and Chinese players replaced them and won the championship. Ahn Hyun-soo was photographed cheering with open arms on the sidelines after the Chinese competitor won the championship. This incident also caused anger among Korean netizens.
Third, unfair referees where foreign athletes are often called for violations
Analyst Chen Zhengjia noted that there have already been many cases of unfair judging only four days into the Winter Olympics.
In the 2,000-meter team relay in short track skating, the judges ruled that the U.S. and Russia were out in the semifinals, allowing China to advance to the finals and win the gold medal. Ryan Pivirotto of the United States, who was judged to have blocked the handover from China, cried foul after the race, “I don’t even know really what I did, because there was no contact.”
In Sunday’s 1,000-meter speed skating event, the South Korean skaters were disqualified in the semifinals, and the Hungarian skaters were also penalized in the finals, allowing the Chinese team to finish with “gold and silver.”
On Sunday, Japan’s Sara Takanashi, the goddess of ski jumping, was disqualified for having two extra points in her thigh costume in the ski jumping mixed team event. Four other athletes from Austria, Norway, and Germany were also disqualified for their costumes. The European media “Eurosport” described the situation as a “farce.” The Norwegian athletes questioned the judge’s impartiality, saying they measured the costumes utterly different from before.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is also seen by many political commentators to help Chinese President Xi Jinping get re-elected at the upcoming 20th National Congress. The Congress is a series of events that are part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “big domestic and big foreign propaganda” campaign.
Taiwan’s retired Lieutenant Colonel Huang Penghsiao criticized the Winter Olympics as a big show before the 20th Congress. China will find a way to surpass the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which had more than 80 dignitaries attending.
Analyst Chen Zhengjia noted the athletes who lit the main torch at the opening ceremony were Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Zhao Jiawen. Dinigeer is a Uighur athlete from Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities’ choice of a Uighur athlete to light the torch has generated much controversy. China has long been accused of violating the human rights of ethnic minorities such as those in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang expert Ma Haiyun said bluntly, “Dinigeer’s appearance was China’s attempt to respond to Western criticism, but the West still tends to think that most of what China does is a show.”