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China State Council releases new sports development plan

Following Premier Li Keqiang’s comments about increasing fitness and sports consumption in China, the China State Council released a plan named the “Outline For Building A Leading Sports Nation”, which aims to accelerate China’s overall sports development in five aspects: public sports participation; competitive sports performances, culture; international sports industry; and their sports industries.

The plan involves creating preferential policies and funding, upgrading facilities and organising mass fitness activities in three stages leading up to 2050.

Li Jianming, deputy director of the General Administration of Sport, told local media on Monday: “The progress in popular big events such as soccer is the top concern of not just the general public but also the country’s top leadership, so to build the country into a sporting power we have to improve levels in these events.”

The State Council’s strategy aims to build a strong sports industry bolstered by sports-related consumption, production of sports goods, and making sports leisure and tourism into a pillar of economic growth by 2050.

Football is a key tenet in the plan. China have only qualified for the World Cup once in 2002, and their ambition within the plan is to aim to make the Cup finals again in 2022, as well as host the World Cup in China as quickly as possible.

Li said: “To host the World Cup and one day become a winner stays in line with our ambition to build world-leading sporting prowess outlined in the plan.”

With tensions still high in Hong Kong, the State Council is aiming to use sport diplomacy to strengthen bonds with the special administrative region, as well as Macau and Taiwan. The plan included goals that would use sport to “build stronger diplomatic ties world-wide, as well as provide platforms to build on Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” framework.