Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Friday to make the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics a success, while the United States and other democratic countries have announced they will implement a "diplomatic boycott" of the global sporting event.
"We will spare no effort to present a great games to the world. The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready" for the Olympics slated for February 2022, Xi said in his televised speech on New Year's Eve.
Xi's remarks suggested China is confident in hosting the Winter Games, although the United States has promised not to send government officials to the Beijing Olympics. Other nations, such as Australia, Britain and Canada, have followed suit.
The Chinese Communist-led government under Xi has been keen to use the Olympics as a way to enhance national prestige, as he has been trying to pave the way for a controversial third term as the country's leader, foreign affairs experts said.
As for self-ruled Taiwan, Xi said, "The complete reunification of our motherland is an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait."
China and democratic Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as the result of a civil war. Beijing has regarded the island as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.