China will expect to enjoy success in short track speed skating ©Getty Images

China will be represented by a delegation of 236 at the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games, which are due to get underway on February 19.

The country will compete in all events at the Games, with 157 athletes supported by 79 team officials.

China are hopeful the Games will provide a strong platform for their rising stars to test their abilities before next year’s Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, as well as their home Games four years later in Beijing.

Zhao Hongbo, who won pairs figure skating gold at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics with Shen Xue, now heads the country’s pairs programme.

He told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that the Asian Winter Games are being used to help hone performances for the next two Winter Olympics.

China will be represented by two pairs, Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao, as well as Peng Cheng and Jin Yang.

"They're practicing all the time, not only for Sapporo, but also for Pyeongchang and Beijing," said Zhao.

"We are using this time as a big rehearsal before next year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and we're looking forward to our best performance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics."

Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao will be one of China's two figure skating pairs at the Games ©Getty Images
Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao will be one of China's two figure skating pairs at the Games ©Getty Images

With nine of China's 12 Winter Olympic golds coming in short track speed skating, the country will be expecting a strong showing in the Sapporo 2017 medal table in the sport.

Ice hockey is a sport which has been earmarked for major improvement before Beijing 2022, so both Chinese teams will be hoping to make an impression when they take to the ice.

They will feature in the top division of the men’s and women’s tournaments, with the former set to take on defending champions Kazakhstan, Japan and South Korea in the Tsukisamu Gymnasium.

The women’s team will take on Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand at the Games.

Prior to the Games, China protested against staying in the APA Hotel, due to a controversial book placed in rooms.

The book, written by APA chief executive Toshio Motoya under the name Seiji Fuji, reportedly disputes Chinese claims that the Japanese imperial army killed 300,000 people after it invaded Nanjing in December 1937.

China and South Korea, who also rejected several of the book's claims, agreed to be housed in the Sapporo Prince Hotel instead. 

Five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events are due to be contested at the Games, which are due to take place until February 26.

Athletes from Australia and New Zealand are due to compete alongside Asian countries for the first time, although they will not be eligible to win medals.