— Published 21 September 2023

An opening with a very political flavour

Not surprisingly, the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou (23 September to 8 October) will take on a political dimension in China. Public broadcaster CCTV illustrated this on Thursday 21 September by announcing part of the cast of the official tribune for the opening ceremony. Chinese President Xi Jinping, host for the evening, will welcome his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. On the sidelines of the ceremony, the Chinese head of state “will organise a welcome banquet and bilateral activities for foreign leaders visiting China.” This will be Bashar al-Assad’s first visit to China since the start of the war in Syria in 2011. According to CCTV, China has also confirmed that political leaders from several allied countries, including Cambodia, Kuwait and Nepal, will be in Hangzhou at the end of the week.