Foreign Affairs reported:
Many observers look at China and see its leadership playing a masterful game. They see China refusing to bend its policies to fit global norms and successfully going its own way. The reality is that Beijing has tried to bend repeatedly under President Xi Jinping but has almost broken each time and has had to fall back on its old ways—which are not succeeding. The quantity and the quality of China’s growth (looking past the anomalies of the pandemic period) have both deteriorated. And unless the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party finds its way back to the path of economic liberalization, China’s future will look very different from the rosy picture the CCP paints.
The urgency of reform is a happy result of China’s rise to middle-income status from the extreme poverty it experienced just a few decades ago. It is nothing to be ashamed of. But the applause that China has earned for its economic successes will subside if Xi fails to tolerate policy debate and accept more constrained political ambitions that admit the limits of the CCP’s capabilities.
An honest assessment of recent setbacks suggests that time is running out. [https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2021-06-22/chinas-economic-reckoning]