The view from Beijing: a Chinese-built bridge in Maputo, Mozambique, May 2018
WANG TENG / XINHUA / EYEVINE / REDUX

The Chinese people, President Xi Jinping proclaimed in 2016, “are fully confident in offering a China solution to humanity’s search for better social systems.” A year later, he declared that China was “blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization.” Such claims come as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been extending its reach overseas and reverting to a more repressive dictatorship under Xi after experimenting with a somewhat more pluralistic, responsive mode of authoritarianism.

Many Western politicians have watched this authoritarian turn at home and search for influence abroad and concluded that China is engaged in a life-and-death attempt to defeat democracy—a struggle it may even be winning. In Washington, the pendulum has swung from a consensus supporting engagement with China to one calling for competition or even containment in a new Cold War, driven in part by concerns that an emboldened China is seeking

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  • JESSICA CHEN WEISS is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University and the author of Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China’s Foreign Relations.
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