BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the highly expected 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou from Friday to Saturday and will hold a welcoming banquet and bilateral events for foreign leaders attending the ceremony, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.
Hangzhou, the host city, is now under the global spotlight as it welcomes about 12,000 participants from 45 countries and regions across Asia, marking it the largest Asian Games ever.
The Games – China’s first mega-event since the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – will not only serve as an occasion for showcasing the solidarity among Asian countries amid the frequent interference of US-led Western forces in its regional affairs, and demonstrating China’s inclusiveness and openness, but will also give a new push to economic recovery, as the sports event itself is an important pipeline for stimulating economic activity in the host city, and even the host country, boosting exchanges and strengthening public confidence in its future prospects, experts said.
The launch of the Games also unveiled a major diplomatic event in China this fall. The foreign leaders attending the opening ceremony in China include King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” of Nepal, Prime Minister Xanana Gusm?o of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of South Korea and Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat of Malaysia Johari bin Abdul, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday.
In addition, the Sultan of Brunei’s representative Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, the Emir of Qatar’s representative Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prince Faisal bin Hussein of Jordan, Princess Sirivannavari of Thailand and Deputy Prime Minister Edil Baisalov of Kyrgyzstan will attend related events, the spokesperson said.
The Asian Games, also called the Asiad, is a multi-sport event that takes place every four years. The 19th edition of the Games was originally scheduled to take place in China in 2022, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not only a sports event but also a major diplomatic activity showcasing the solidarity among Asian countries, and the many foreign leaders and senior officials attending the event also reflected a consensus on building a community with a shared future in Asia,” Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Such a large-scale attendance also shows the wide recognition of China’s role in international sports events and other international affairs, demonstrating those countries’ willingness to coordinate and cooperate with China in promoting the cause of human progress, Li said.