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Xi Jinping’s Chinese Tragedy

Although Xi Jinping finally ended China's disastrous zero-COVID policy late last year, he has continued to double down on his Leninist project of deepening autocracy at home and aggression abroad. More Sino-Western "decoupling" and the emergence of Cold War-style blocs is all but assured.

Orville Schell, the director of the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations and a long-time chronicler of China, has been closely watching the country’s development since the days of Mao Zedong. Here, he speaks with the Polish historian and former dissident Irena Grudzińska Gross about President Xi Jinping’s increasingly iron-fisted rule and China’s regression toward Maoist absolutism at home and nationalist aggression abroad.

Irena Grudzińska Gross: Every day seems to bring new developments that augur a downward spiral in US-China relations.

Orville Schell: Yes. And making matters even more fraught, Xi Jinping has just returned from a three-day official state visit to Moscow, where he met with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials. As Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi put it, China’s goal is “to strengthen our comprehensive strategic partnership” in ways that can “withstand all tests.”

So, of course, the US and its democratic allies feel threatened, and not just by Russia and China’s bellicosity, but by the unholy alliance of autocrats – Iran, Syria, Belarus, and North Korea – they are assembling. It is hardly surprising that the US and its allies are now actively rallying to create a more effective and collective deterrent that makes Russia feel even more spurned and cast out, and China feel even more threatened by what it views as an unprovoked latter-day containment policy.