Conventional narrative within China depicts Xi Jinping as a statesman, a strongman and a philosopher who has emerged tall since assuming leadership in March 2013. He has absolute power and holds the reins that have catapulted the success of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Building a staunchly nationalistic platform driven by his unique doctrine recognized as “Xi Jinping Thought” (officially, the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”), President Xi has sought to bring back China’s medieval glory — thus inviting comparison to the legendary Mao Zedong.

Now, with the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CCP — the Party’s mandated annual convention to map the government’s agenda moving forward — set to be held later in October 2020, Xi faces a test of his policies, ideologies and strategies. Many are keeping a tight vigil on Xi Jinping’s promise that he made to the Chinese people, about building a “Community with a Shared Future for Humankind” (CSF), a cornerstone of his foreign policy in the Asian neighborhood. Observers are also following how it is faring in the post-pandemic period, and whether it can continue to achieve all that it set out to even as Beijing is quickly losing diplomatic ground in an emerging (and hostile) security environment.

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