China’s Trial by Fire

The Communist Party feels validated by the crucible that has been 2020.

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From the COVID-19 outbreak to the subsequent economic crisis, with catastrophic flooding of the Yangtze River thrown in for good measure, 2020 has subjected the Communist Party of China to one existential crisis after another. Yet, Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to have a preternatural ability to swoop in and save the day. Not only does his administration appear to have come out from these calamities unscathed, but in some ways it seems to have grown stronger, more confident and more determined to dictate terms to foes foreign and domestic than ever – with Xi himself seizing every chance to turn crisis into opportunity to cement his power. It was Xi, for example, who Chinese propagandists say commanded the decisive battles in the “People’s War” against the invisible enemy, the coronavirus. It was Xi, according to his own comments during an August inspection tour of flood damage along the Yangtze, who’s continuing a centurieslong tradition of Chinese leaders demonstrating their mandate to lead by taming floodwaters. It was Xi who successfully waged a war on financial risk and who prepared China for the day when the U.S. would try to blunt China’s rise as a way to distract from its […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.