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Beijing Olympics in China: US affairs struggling over boycott talks

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The only thing that seems certain about the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is that they will beanything but normal.

Last week illustrated this fact. It started on Tuesday when Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department, said that a boycott was “on the agenda” and “an area we certainly want to discuss” with our allies. The White House quickly came back to this point, with spokeswoman Jen Psaki claiming that on Wednesday there wasnone are talking about a boycott. But by then, the gaming debate had already erupted.

The idea of ​​a boycott has already been raised. A public letter signed by 180 human rights groups and activists called for exactly that in February. What made this week remarkable, however, is that the likelihood of a boycott, at least before the White House refuses, seems more real than ever.

But there are also reasons to believe that a boycott remains the least likely outcome. For a,Beijing will push back. Indeed, President Xi Jinping during a call this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted how the Winter Olympics would promote trade between Europe and China. Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent a similar message to his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi when they spoke.

It is also unclear what leverage a boycott or the threat of a boycott would offer. The stakes ofXinjiang andHong Kong is the most cited reasons why countries should not participate, but Beijing has publicly described them as part of China’s core interests. It doesn’t leave much room for maneuver.

There is also a lot of opposition in the United States to banning American athletes, some of whom have trained their entire lives for the chance to compete. This is why Mitt Romney, the United States Senator and former presidential candidate, suggested last month that it should be American companies that are instead asked to stay away.

Even if Washington does not explicitly ask American companies to avoid gambling, there will likely still be pressure on companies to do so, for example from rights groups who advocate a boycott. This will leave businesses with a thorny conundrum.

relates to Next China: An Olympic Dilemma for Business

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of China for trade. According to the latest estimates from the International Monetary Fund, the country will be themain driver of global growth from this year to 2026, accounting for more than a fifth of the world’s total economic expansion.

And China can boycott as well, as illustrated by the recent outcry that followed.retailer H&M’s statement that it will not use cotton grown in Xinjiang.

Businesses may end up being forced to choose between home critics for competing in the Winter Olympics or being targeted in China for not.

Japan’s dilemma

Reconciling Japan’s defense alliance with the United States and its economic relations with China has been a delicate balancing act for Tokyo, as it has for many countries. What has recently brought to light the situation in Japan is that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga isis expected to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House next week.

China will certainly be a topic of discussion. One of the issues the US president might want to talk about is Tokyoreluctance to sanction China, its main trading partner, for Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang. Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven that has yet to do so.

Beijing has made its position clear on the issue. In a phone call this week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang told his Japanese counterpart Motegi that he hoped Japanwould avoid “internal problems” such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and would not be ruled by countries that are prejudiced against China.

Being stuck between the world’s greatest powers is a position no country wants to be in, but a place that is increasingly difficult to escape.

Exit issues

Data released this week showed that foreign holdings of Chinese government bonds fell in March compared to a month earlier. It was thefirst reduction in two years.

Declining attraction

Foreigners end Chinese two-year government bond buying spree

Source: ChinaBond, Bloomberg

While the drop of around $ 2.5 billion was relatively small compared to total foreign holdings of $ 312 billion, it will nonetheless add to concerns China may face.release pressures in the coming months. The main catalyst was a stronger US economy, which pushed up inflation expectations and US government debt yields.

This has made holding Chinese government bonds less attractive compared to Treasuries. A recentthe collapse of the yuan, which gave up all of its 2021 gains in March, added to this momentum.

Beijing hashas long been paranoid about exits, especially after the yuan fell sharply in 2015. There are concerns that a rapid movement of money out of the country could endanger financial stability. If this sale of Chinese government bonds continues and intensifies, authorities may feel pressured to try to stem the outflow.

Vaccine deployment

Chinese state television has started labeling it as a patriotic responsibility to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Goodies such asFree eggs and shopping coupons are hanging to entice people to get vaccinated. Buildings in Beijing’s financial district have started displaying signs showing the percentage of their tenantswere inoculated.

These are just a few of the ways China has sought tooverfeed your vaccination campaign after a slow startsaw it fall behind the United States and some other Western countries. What is at stake is how quickly nations canget collective immunity and bring their savings back to something closer to normal.

Beijing’s efforts seem to be working. In recent weeks, China has administered up to 7 million doses per day, a significant increase from the average of less than one million per day at the start of 2021. Indeed, the surge is working so well that manufacturers vaccines in the country arestruggling to keep up, with some residents now struggling to get vaccinated.

This is only the tip of the iceberg given the huge Chinese population. To meet Beijing’s goal of vaccinating 40 percent of its citizens by the end of June, China will need to distribute some 460 million doses over the next three months. That’s more than double the goal the Biden administration set for itself for roughly the same amount of time.

Accelerating

China caused a surge in Covid vaccination by increasing the pressure

Source: National Health Commission

What we read

And finally, a few other things that caught our attention:

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