As world leaders meet this week to discuss the pandemic, supply chains and climate change, Chinese President Xi Jinping has his hands full at home.
A power crisis, defaulting property developers and Covid-19 outbreaks are prompting economists to cut growth forecasts. That’s complicating Xi’s efforts to implement sweeping changes to China’s economy in his “common prosperity” campaign.
Geopolitical tensions are also rising. China today blasted the U.S. for suggesting Taiwan play a greater role at the United Nations, shortly after Xi urged further military advancements on the back of a hypersonic missile test.
Mark Milley, the U.S.’s top uniformed military officer, likened that display to a “Sputnik moment,” in reference to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the world’s first space satellite.
Amid the noise, Xi’s main goal is improving living standards for hundreds of millions of citizens living paycheck to paycheck. While he wants to rein in billionaires and look tough on Taiwan, he also wants to avoid a destabilizing event that ultimately risks weakening the Communist Party — and his own grip on power.
To that end, the next month is crucial. Party bigwigs will soon gather in Beijing for the biggest meeting before next year’s congress, a twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle.
If all goes smoothly, Xi will be well on his way to serving a precedent-breaking third term — and maybe even feeling comfortable enough to venture outside China’s borders again. — Daniel Ten Kate