Chinese President Xi Jinping’s effort to project an image of a politically monolithic society has been remarkably successful in shaping how Europeans have come to view China. But as protests against China’s “zero COVID” policy spread, it’s clear that EU policymakers have been operating under a false stereotype of the country.
Much of the world looked on with consternation as Xi Jinping began his third term as president of China and leader of the Chinese Communist Party in October. Xi’s ironclad grasp on power has crucial implications for how the CCP will respond to critical domestic challenges, which in turn will affect China’s foreign policy.
China’s challenges at home and abroad have grown more pronounced in recent years—so much so that a longstanding debate over China’s intentions increasingly coexists with one over its trajectory: Is it on a path to global preeminence, or is it near the zenith of its power and perhaps even on the verge of systemic decline?