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Will China's “Common Prosperity” Survive Putin’s War?

Chinese President Xi Jinping's "common prosperity" campaign takes aim at the market-oriented policies that have enabled China’s rise. At a time when COVID-19 border controls and perceived complicity in Russia’s aggression are already threatening to isolate China, the risks of pursuing such a campaign should not be underestimated.

OXFORD – Earlier this month, as Russian forces shelled Ukrainian cities and COVID-19 infections soared, Communist Party of China (CPC) leaders gathered for their most important annual political meetings: the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. While the weighty documents and lengthy speeches that defined both meetings hardly mentioned the pandemic, and did not mention Russia’s war at all, China – and its already troubled economy – is undoubtedly being rocked by both.

For much of the last year, the CPC’s “common prosperity” campaign has dominated Chinese government rhetoric. President Xi Jinping has frequently described common prosperity as “an essential requirement of socialism.” But important questions about the campaign’s contours remain, and many observers expected them to be answered, at least partly, at this month’s twin sessions.

That did not happen. Instead, China’s leaders made only brief and patchy references to “prosperity” and “prosperity for all.” In the face of internal and external instability, China’s leaders seem to be recalibrating their priorities.

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