China’s leaders continued their efforts to project China as a great power, signaling the abandonment of the more passive approach that characterized foreign policy before Xi Jinping came to power. The 2020 passage of the National Security Law basically ended Hong Kong’s political autonomy. In the months after the law was passed, dozens of protesters and opposition politicians were arrested.

While millions of Uyghur citizens are incarcerated in so-called “re-education camps” where indoctrination, maltreatment, physical abuse and torture is prevalent, criticism of China’s human rights situation is rejected under the pretext of “interference in its internal affairs”.

In December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in the city of Wuhan. The regime initially averted systematic enquires into the origins of the virus and brought the spread of COVID-19 under control through a hard lockdown, travel restrictions, quarantine measures and mass testing. While some observers predicted a “Chernobyl moment” for the regime due to its bungled initial reaction to the outbreak, the regime seems to have emerged strengthened.

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