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Beijing Winter Olympics Will Spotlight a Richer, More Confident China

The country is richer, more confident, and more assertive than it was when the 2008 Summer Games were held in Beijing.
The National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, which will be used for opening and closing ceremonies at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, which will be used for opening and closing ceremonies at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

For China, hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics was a chance to prove it could hold its own among the great global powers. When the world tunes in for the opening ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 4, a very different China will be in the spotlight.

In 2008 the country had just surpassed Germany to become the world’s third-biggest economy. Its gross domestic product still trailed Japan’s and was only one-third the size of the U.S. economy. Today, China’s GDP is three times larger than Japan’s and steadily closing on the No. 1 spot. If Chinese President Xi Jinping is able to deliver on growth-boosting reforms, and U.S. President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda stumbles, China could overtake the U.S. as soon as 2031, according to forecasts by Bloomberg Economics.