How the rest of the world responds to what is happening in the People’s Republic of China, is the critical question of our time. How we do so, will determine the future of liberal democracy, of independent legal systems, of free-thinking writers and free-spirited artists, of religious institutions.

Its longtime former foreign minister Qian Qichen said that “diplomacy is the extension of domestic policy”. In order to learn why China is behaving as it is internationally, it is essential to understand what drives the communist party that has ruled it for 72 years – which is today effectively the sole institution in China. No organisation exists, from a football team to a church to a university to a private business, that is not guided by a party representative or branch within it. The party’s general secretary Xi Jinping famously says: East west north south and the centre, the party leads all.

Xi is today the most powerful person in the world, aged 67 now constitutionally able to govern for life without a single constraint except the underlying requirement to maintain the confidence of influential members of the party. He is a risk-taker, a dice-roller. He keeps pressing on because of course he believes in historical determinism, in communism’s ultimate victory, and also because of his personal experience of political success – although this naturally involves struggle. In a recent speech Xi used the word for struggle, douzheng, 60 times. One of the earliest and most important instructions issued by the party under Xi’s leadership, Document Number 9, requires party members and all officials to guard against and vigorously oppose seven threats: universal values, press freedom, civil society, citizens’ rights, reviewing the party’s version of history, and endorsing either the “capitalistic class” or the independence of the judiciary.

Please click here to read the full “Chinese power: the new international dynamic. A summary“ article at the Instituto De Estudios Internacionales, written by Griffith Asia Institute Industry Fellow, Rowan Callick.