A satellite image, taken in May, of a Chinese army base in Galwan Valley, where Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed last month.
Maxar WorldView-3 Satellite / Reuters

Over the course of the novel coronavirus crisis, analysts have watched relations between the United States and China spiral to a historic nadir, with scant hope of recovery. There are many reasons for the slide, but Beijing, in a striking departure from its own diplomatic track record, has been taking a much harder line than usual on the international stage—so much so, that even the most seasoned observers are wondering whether China’s foreign policy has fundamentally changed.

China’s approach to the world was, of course, never ironclad. Many factors determine a country’s diplomatic strategy, from its history, culture, and geography to the nature of its regime and its relative global power. If a government perceives one or more of these factors to have changed, so, too, may its diplomacy. But as COVID-19 has ravaged the globe, Chinese President Xi Jinping has appeared to defy many of

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  • KURT M. CAMPBELL is Chair and CEO of The Asia Group and former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
  • MIRA RAPP-HOOPER is Stephen A. Schwarzman Senior Fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Shields of the Republic: The Triumph and Peril of America’s Alliances.
  • More By Kurt M. Campbell
  • More By Mira Rapp-Hooper