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The Winter Olympics in a Divided World | Quick Take | GZERO Media

The Winter Olympics in a divided world

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and a happy start of the week to you. Got your Quick Take to get you going on a Monday, and why not talk about the Olympics, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, so different from the Summer Olympics that they hosted back in 2008, when the American president was there, and was enormously impressed, and this was China coming out onto the world stage, and seen as a global leader. Though the presumption in the West was still as they got wealthier and more powerful, and we let them into global leadership roles, including hosting the Olympics, they would eventually become more of a free market and more democratic. And of course, that was wrong.

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A police officer walks past a poster depicting Bing Dwen Dwen (R), the mascot of the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Shuey Rhon Rhon (L), the mascot of the 2022 Winter Paralympics.

Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Signal quiz! Winter Olympics trivia

The Winter Olympics have enjoyed their fair share of political drama over the years. As the 2022 Games open in Beijing, test your knowledge of these moments in this special Signal quiz. Let us know if you score gold.

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Why Xi Jinping might pull off the Winter Olympics

The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off this week against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic, volatile geopolitics, and diplomatic boycotts over China’s human rights record. But Beijing is still going for gold.

Some anticipate that these dynamics will render the Games — a platform for flexing global soft power — a failure. But there are compelling reasons to believe China’s President Xi Jinping could pull off the massive sporting event successfully, thereby boosting Beijing’s diplomatic bonafides and proving naysayers wrong.

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Inside Beijing's Struggle to Keep the Olympics COVID Free | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Beijing's struggle to keep the Olympics COVID free

COVID-19 positive cases leading up to the Beijing Olympics, a proposed defense pact between Ukraine, Poland, and the UK, and the Joe Rogan/Spotify scandal -- Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

First, how is COVID-19 affecting Beijing Olympics prep in China?

Well, we've got already well over a hundred members of Olympic athletes and staff that have tested positive twice, which means they ain't playing. They're not involved. They're going to go home. And these numbers are going to go way up. I do think that this idea of a complete closed loop system, the Chinese have more ability to implement and execute on that than pretty much any country in the world. So I doubt you're going to see spread from the Olympics into the broader population, but you're going to see a lot of people with COVID coming in because omicron is so incredibly spreadable. And that's going to be yet one more thing that dings a very weird Beijing Olympics with diplomatic boycotts and populations unhappy about where we are and not having fans and all the political challenges and censorship and surveillance of phones and data going to the government. And it's just so politicized that you hate to see that with global athletes, and global athletics, but that's where we are. I do say that I'm glad that the athletes are still competing. It's one of the few things that can bring us all together on this planet.

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How China Decides to Handle Omicron Will Have Global Implications – Yanzhong Huang | GZERO World

How China decides to handle omicron will have global implications – Yanzhong Huang

The arrival of omicron could be disastrous for China, Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells Ian Bremmer in a GZERO World interview.

Xi Jinping's zero-COVID approach faces its toughest test to date; the country lacks mRNA jabs which are more effective against the new variant, and so few Chinese people have gotten COVID that overall protection is very low.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to shake hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Russia & China vs “the West”

Russia and China have always had a complicated relationship. They almost went to war over a border dispute in 1969, and have historically regarded each other as neither friends nor enemies, but rather competitors for influence in Asia and elsewhere.

But that all started to change in 2014, the year Moscow and Beijing saw a US hand in the revolutions that prompted Russia to seize Crimea from Ukraine, and China to crack down on umbrella-wearing protesters in Hong Kong. China is increasingly thirsty for Russian oil and natural gas, and both have a common interest in standing up to “the West.”

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are now showing off their authoritarian bromance in the face of growing animosity from the US and its allies over flashpoints such as Ukraine and Taiwan.

We know how much of the West views Russia and China. But how do Russia and China view the West? Here's a hypothetical recent catch-up video call between BFFs Putin and Xi.

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China's My2022 App Flaws Compromise Security with Surveillance Threats | Cyber In :60 | GZERO Media

Security flaws in China’s My2022 Olympics app could allow surveillance

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Does the Beijing 2022 Olympics app have security flaws?

Well, the researchers at the Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto do believe so. And if their revelations, this time, will set off a similar storm as they did with the forensics on NSO Group's spyware company, then there will be trouble ahead for China. The researchers found that the official My2022 app for the sports event, which attendees are actually required to download and to use for documenting their health status, has flaws in the security settings. Loopholes they found could be used for intrusion and surveillance.

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Activists take part in a protest against China's treatment towards the ethnic Uyghur people and calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, at a park Jakarta, Indonesia, January 4, 2022.

REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

What We’re Watching: Xinjiang at the Beijing Olympics, Boris in deep(er) trouble, Indonesia’s new capital

Selling Xinjiang. Xi Jinping — a man well known for both his grand vision of China’s future, and for his willingness to get large numbers of people to do things they might not otherwise do — said in 2018 that he wanted 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports. The Chinese government announced this week that this goal has been met in honor of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, which open in China’s capital on February 4. Multinational companies are consistently impressed by the commercial opportunities created when 300 million people decide to try new things. But it’s an inconvenient truth that most of China’s most abundant snow and best ski slopes are found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a place where Western governments and human rights organizations have accused Beijing of imprisoning more than one million minority Uyghurs in re-education camps. In these prisons, critics say inmates have experienced “torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment.” As China’s government opens new profit opportunities in Xinjiang, multinational corporations will face pressure from multiple directions not to invest there.

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