“Xi Jinping is poised to make history this month when the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party grants him a third term as general secretary.

“All evidence indicates that despite China’s economic and social woes, Xi’s ambitions for global preeminence remain undiminished. Indeed, even as the economy slows, there is one area in which China continues to overperform: the export of authoritarian influence.

“China’s primary tools of statecraft are not those of raw military power but the subtler instruments of covert influence, economic coercion, co-optation and corruption. Beijing’s goal is to ease its path to primacy while shaping a new world order built around the CCP’s authoritarian values. The party’s ambitious, globe-spanning efforts are aimed at both ferreting out dissent and creating dependencies on China.

“Trade remains the most important conduit for Chinese influence over other countries’ politics. The CCP pursues the promotion of cross-border economic ties in no small part because they produce a political dividend by creating powerful overseas lobbying constituencies that defer to the party’s political preferences. This can corrode democratic institutions and neutralize challenges to China’s campaign to make the world safe for autocracy.

“This trend is not just a problem for the developing world. …”

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