People wear masks in front of a portrait of Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, February 2020
Aly Song / Reuters

Two months ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping looked like he would emerge from the novel coronavirus pandemic with his legitimacy and his ambitions for Chinese global leadership in tatters. Today, as the Chinese government lifts its lockdown on the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, Xi can present himself instead as a forceful and triumphant leader on the world stage. Leaders in Europe and the United States are increasingly looking to China for help as they struggle to contain the virus in their own countries.

Few would have predicted such a reversal. China’s blundering initial response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, seemed destined to weaken Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At first, authorities attempted to cover up the outbreak. A Wuhan physician named Li Wenliang warned of a deadly SARS-like disease in December, and the party ordered him to stop spreading “

To read the full article

  • YANZHONG HUANG is Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he directs the Global Health Governance roundtable series, and a Professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations.
  • More By Yanzhong Huang