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Elizabeth Economy Details Shifts in Chinese Domestic and Foreign Policy


Published December 2, 2021

China’s president, Xi Jinping, is pursuing an ambitious and expansive foreign policy while steering the country toward repressive authoritarianism. The Chinese Communist Party has reasserted itself into the daily lives of Chinese people, and President Xi continues to enact strict regulations, giving him control over what goes in and out of the country. Together, these changes have triggered a rethink and reset of United States foreign policy.

Additional Resources:

  • Read “The China Model: Unexceptional Exceptionalism,” by Elizabeth Economy via the Human Prosperity Project. Available here.
  • Listen to “Democracy and Authoritarianism,” with Elizabeth Economy and Larry Diamond via Talks from the Hoover Institution. Available here.
  • Read,“An Order Aligned with Chinese Values,” by Elizabeth Economy via the Lowy Institute. Available here.
View Transcript

There’s been a dramatic shift in how the US foreign policy community understands China: its intentions and its capabilities. 

And this has led to a rethink and a reset of US policy. 

In both countries, analysts and members of the administrations have begun to ask the question whether we are in the midst of a new Cold War. 

So, how have we arrived at this point? 

It’s a function of a dramatic shift in China’s domestic and foreign policies under Xi Jinping in ways that directly challenge US values and interests. 

And it is the determination by the Trump administration that the traditional US approach to China, of engage but hedge, no longer is adequate to manage the bilateral relationship. 

Instead the administration has adopted a policy that I call “compete, counter, and contain.” 

The pandemic is not responsible for the downward trajectory in the US/ China relationship, but it has greatly exacerbated bilateral tensions.