Military World Games – 'Let the power of sports dispel the shadow of war'
Huang Jiyuan
Teams parade at the opening ceremony of the Military World Games in Wuhan, China. /VCG Photo

Teams parade at the opening ceremony of the Military World Games in Wuhan, China. /VCG Photo

Editor's note: Huang Jiyuan is an opinion editor with CGTN Digital. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

International cooperation isn't a popular idea for certain countries these days. And yet, at the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan, China, international cooperation is championed by military personnel from over 100 countries.

The Military World Games was founded on the idea of promoting world peace by bringing soldiers who'd met on the battlefield on to the sports field. To commemorate the end of the Second World War and the signing of the United Nations Charter, the first Military World Games was held between September 4 and September 16 in 1995. The first games were hosted in Rome, Italy, with 93 countries and more than 4,000 soldiers participating. It was the first time that military units from all over the world had gathered together for a sporting event in peacetime.

Sports, as Chinese President Xi Jinping noted, is "an integral part of people-to-people and cultural exchanges." It fosters a sense of belonging and unity, a feeling and quality that are essential to the cohesion and strength of the military. In today's world, it also promotes a world view that's being challenged.

Through the Games, soldiers from different nations and cultures would become more aware of their differences and understand each other. Bridging the cultural gaps between militaries would make them respect more of each other's interests and motivations; thus, promoting international cooperation.

Military personnel and officials from more than 100 countries are attending the Military World Games in Wuhan, China. /VCG Photo

Military personnel and officials from more than 100 countries are attending the Military World Games in Wuhan, China. /VCG Photo

In the current international political environment, such a display of understanding and unity is a rarity. Unilateralism, nationalism and interference in other countries' sovereignty have become the norm for some countries. Discussion, honest exchange of information and participation in international institutions have been shunned by some countries when solving international conflicts.

In the past several years, the U.S. has engaged in conflicts with multiple countries. It has sanctioned Russian officials and the Russian economy. It has engaged in a trade war with China and interfered in China's domestic politics. It has antagonized the majority of the Middle East by moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. U.S. officials publicly threatened those who don't conform to its desires and vowed retaliation. This bullying style of diplomacy doesn't produce peace and stability. Sovereign nations like China and Russia wouldn't succumb to this kind of pressure.

Many non-state actors are still actively disturbing peace. Conflicts between countries give separatists, extremists, and terrorists the room to survive. They are taking advantage of the situation to sow more chaos for their own gain. The U.S., China, Russia, and many others suffer from this. Countless resources and manpower are invested into eradicating these non-state forces. Fostering peace and cooperation between countries would limit the breathing room for the destabilizing forces and free up more energy to focus on increasing the livelihoods of people.

This makes military to military exchanges all the more important. President Xi said that "China would like to join hands with foreign militaries to tackle the common security threats and challenges and make a greater contribution to safeguarding world peace and building a community of shared future for humanity." A peaceful and stable international order is in China's and the world's interests. Mutual understanding and respect between soldiers from different countries would help tame a country's impulses from rushing into military conflicts. Instead, the energy could be spent to guard against other global threats.

And through the Games, it is the hope that all nations would join hands in safeguarding the peace and prosperity we enjoy now.

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