China’s latest five-year blueprint suggests President Xi Jinping is girding for battle. Despite the recent economic rebound from the pandemic, the tone from the ruling Communist Party’s closed-door meetings was notably less cheerful than in 2015. Although details are scarce for now, Beijing is intensifying preparations for geopolitical and corporate arms races.
Noting “profound adjustment in the international balance of power”, the official communique released from the so-called 5th plenum reflects a darkening mood in Beijing. Washington’s moves against telecommunications equipment maker Huawei and video app TikTok, retaliatory efforts over China’s crackdown in Hong Kong and criticism over its early pandemic response have made their mark. Proposed U.S. export curbs on chipmaker SMIC threaten to curb a nascent but growing domestic semiconductor industry. Concerns have spread internationally about an overdependence on mainland suppliers.