Xi Jinping has struck a confident posture as he looks to secure China’s prosperity and power in a post-COVID-19 world, saying that the country is entering a time of opportunity when "the East is rising, and the West is declining.”

But behind closed doors, China’s Communist Party leader has also issued a blunt caveat to officials: Do not count out our competitors, above all the United States.

"The biggest source of chaos in the present-day world is the United States,” Xi said, a county official in northwest China recounted in a speech published last week on a government website. He quoted Xi as saying: "The United States is the biggest threat to our country’s development and security.”