Country Reports

As 2019 ended, Xi Jinping’s relations with neighboring leaders drew scrutiny. Whereas over the past year his ties to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin often captured the spotlight, the world was awaiting his state visit with Abe Shinzo in April, response to moves by Kim Jong-un, possible visit to Seoul to meet Moon Jae-in in the spring, reaction to Tsai Ing-wen’s victory in Taiwan, and the next stage of relationship with Narendra Modi after India made clear that it would not join RCEP. In late 2017, Xi had set a clear direction to improve ties with Japan as part of a new strategy to boost ties to surrounding states in light of the deepening and inevitable confrontation with the US. And in 2018, the expansion of the SCO to include India and a shift to diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula had rekindled Xi’s interventionist aspirations. Yet, uncertainties loomed for 2020 before the scare of an epidemic left plans on hold and a dark shadow over China’s New Year’s celebrations.

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