How Xi Jinping Views the World

The Core Interests That Shape China's Behavior

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for an event commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, May 2018. Jason Lee / REUTERS

Much has been written on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarkable consolidation of political power since he took office five years ago. But an equally important question for the international community to consider is how Xi views the world—and what that means for how China will approach it. Because of the opacity of the Chinese political system, this is hard to answer with real certainty. But clear patterns are beginning to emerge.

Xi’s worldview places greater emphasis on the centrality of the Chinese Communist Party over the professional apparatus of the state and of communist ideology over policy pragmatism. It is one of Chinese nationalism suffused with a cocktail of economic achievement, political nostalgia, and national grievance together with a new culture of political self-confidence that represents a clear departure from Deng Xiaoping’s orthodoxy of “hide your strength, bide your time, never take the lead.”

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