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Long Reads

China's Challenges

President Xi Jinping intends to use the Beijing Winter Olympics as an opportunity to tout the superiority of his model of authoritarian rule. But the regime's careful preparations have required covering up problems that can no longer be obscured.

STANFORD – The year 2022 will be a critical one in the history of the world. In a few days, China – the world’s most powerful authoritarian state – will begin hosting the Winter Olympics, and, like Germany in 1936, it will attempt to use the spectacle to score a propaganda victory for its system of strict controls.

We are at, or close to, important decisions that will determine the direction in which the world is going. A new German government was formed late last year, and the French presidential election is set for April. In the same month, Hungary’s voters may – against great odds – turn their authoritarian ruler out of power. Together with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on whether to invade Ukraine, these developments will help determine the fate of Europe.

In October, moreover, China’s 20th Party Congress will decide whether to give President Xi Jinping a third term as General Secretary. Then, the United States will hold a crucial mid-term election in November.

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