Chinese Sports Reveal Historic Strengths and Economic Aspirations

by Joe

Over the last two weeks, many of the world’s sports fans have been marveling at the talents and aspirations of some of the greatest athletes alive today. The Winter Olympics have just ended in South Korea leaving many people with great memories, and a few people with life time achievements that will be recorded in sports annals for posterity.

I love the Olympics! They speak to some of the best of our dreams about ourselves and what a few of us can aspire to, and they represent what the world could be if we were able to move past the politics and geographies that separate us. They emphasize what can be achieved, instead of stressing what is wrong with the current conditions.
Since Word 4 Asia celebrates China and provides people with a keener understanding of this world power, we thought it would be appropriate to focus on Chinese sports this month.

Chinese Sports Rooted in History

China’s athletics heritage is rooted in the histories of their varied cultures. It is inevitable that with such a long history China should have developed several unique and traditional sports and pastimes. While some are practiced widely by the Han minority as well as the minority groups who make up these groups and reflect their own cultures. As the country is so large and the various minorities are separated by vast distances it is not surprising that they have their own special ways in which to express their vigor and enthusiasm.
Almost all the traditional sports were derived from productive activity. The Mongolians, Tibetans and Kazaks inhabit vast natural grasslands and horsemanship is vital to their existence. Consequently, their gift for riding and shooting has given rise to their forms of sport. The people who live in agricultural communities or who rely on hunting for their livelihood are good at climbing, wrestling, jumping, shooting and so on. The Chinese have practiced archery and swordplay as well as a form of soccer dating back to the earliest dynasties.

Some of China’s traditional or regional sports include:
• Jianzi — players aim to keep an shuttlecock type object (called a Jianzi) in the air by striking it predominantly with legs.
• Cuju — an ancient ball game which involves kicking a ball through an opening into a net.
• Qianball — a racket and ball sport developed in China which can be best described as a mix of aspects from tennis and squash.
• Zui Quan (or Drunkard’s Boxing) — a concept in traditional Chinese martial arts.
Historical Strengths Yield Current Greatness
Today’s Chinese athletes continue to exhibit exceptional abilities in modern sports that use some of the same skills as these traditional ones. From an Olympics sports perspective, China continues to lead the world in the following games:

One common elements among all of these sports is that they are often thought of as ‘summer’ games. In fact, Chinese athletes earned gold medals in all these sports during the last summer Rio de Janiero Olympics in 2016.

Sport as Catalyst to Economic Growth
China is now setting its sights on being equally successful in winter games. The coming 2022 Beijing games represent a major Chinese commitment to leading the world in winter sports. Their commitment to this effort is almost unparalleled. China is building an entire winter sports industry and training hundreds of elite athletes so it can dominate the 2022 Winter Olympics. China’s plan is to create 300 million skiers, skaters, ice hockey players, and other winter athletes within the next few years — some of whom will represent the country in four years’ time, when the country’s status as host will allow it to enter athletes into every single discipline. Accomplishing this will require

  • Creating 300 million skiers, skaters, ice hockey players, and other winter athletes within the next few years — some of whom will represent the country in four years’ time.
  • Building 800 ski resorts and 650 skating rinks by 2022

In short, China has planned to bootstrap an entire winter sports industry in the run-up to the next Winter Olympics. Since these plans were announced, real estate developers have built massive new facilities to meet the country’s demand for winter sports. Coaches from places like Britain and Canada have flocked there to make a living.
Why is China investing so heavily into this initiative? According to Business Insider (2/21/18), because China has committed to hosting the next Winter Olympics Games and the nation is determined to “win big and look good” in front of their home audience. Liu Bo, a former ski trainer, told Reuters that Chinese President Xi Jinping was determined to have China be the preeminent in the 2022 games and would not accept a situation where the stars of the show are “all foreigners.” “President Xi will not allow this to happen,” he said. “We have to be the leading actor in 2022.”

There are also significant economic reasons. Authorities expect China’s winter sports industry to be worth 1 trillion RMB ($158 billion/£113 billion) by 2025, the South China Morning Post reported. As of last year, it was worth around 397 billion RMB ($62 billion/£45 billion), the China Daily said, meaning the industry would need to almost triple in size to meet the target.

 

Word4Asia is a California-based consulting firm helping build productive bridges with China.  Starting with our deep experience and expertise in Chinese culture and a strong China-based professional network, we create customized approaches to help our clients accomplish their goals and aspirations.  If your organization has an interest in expanding your presence in China, we’d be happy to discuss it with you and perhaps lend a hand!  Contact us at gene@word4asia.com

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