The Tokyo Olympics have been over for a week, and the biggest winners, according to the official count of the International Olympic Committee, are the United States. According to state media, the Chinese government seems to see things differently.
Actually, there is not so much to shake about official tables, figures, facts. Unless you do as the Chinese state media do and incorporate other countries that are Chinese territories but have their own governments and therefore have sent their own national teams to Japan. Namely: Hong Kong and Taiwan. This was documented by a long-time China correspondent, Don Weinland, who currently reports from Hong Kong for the weekly newspaper “The Economist.” On Twitter, Weinland shared a screenshot from the messenger app “Weibo,” which instead of showing China’s total of 88 medals, including 38 gold medals, suddenly shows 42 gold and 106 total medals.
And where do these 18 additional medals come from?
The circulated screenshot does not reflect the official International Olympic Committee (IOC) medal tally, according to which the U.S. won in counting both gold medals and total medals. Rather, the medal table shared by the state on Chinese networks shows China in first place, made possible by 18 additional medals won not by the Chinese national team but by the so-called special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Taiwan – which had actually competed with their own national teams.
The island state of Taiwan was able to secure 36th place in the overall ranking with twelve medals (two gold, four silver, six bronze). Hong Kong won a total of six medals (one gold, two silver, three bronze) and landed in 49th place. Adding these medals to those of mainland China, they push China into first place thanks to the gold medal ranking.
For years, there has been poltitic tension in the regions
Both Hong Kong and Taiwan are special administrative zones with their own governments and legislation. They are responded to on the principle of “one country, two systems,” which for a long time allowed the countries to have more liberal legislation with basic democratic values such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. However, relations with mainland China have been complicated for years, and their influence is growing.
In 2019, pro-democracy forces demonstrated for weeks in Hong Kong, fearing China’s rapprochement with more restrictive legislation. Protests grew until the passage of the government’s “security law,” which criminalizes anything that could be considered separatist, terrorist, or subversive. Since then, many people have fled the metropolis and there have been hundreds of arrests.