Xi Hasn’t Left China in 21 Months. Covid May Be Only Part of the Reason.

THE NEW YORK TIMES:

When the presidents and prime ministers of the Group of 20 nations meet in Rome this weekend, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, won’t be among them. Nor is he expected at the climate talks next week in Glasgow, where China’s commitment to curbing carbon emissions is seen as crucial to helping blunt the dire consequences of climate change. He has yet to meet President Biden in person and seems unlikely to any time soon.

Mr. Xi has not left China in 21 months — and counting.

The ostensible reason for Mr. Xi’s lack of foreign travel is Covid-19, though officials have not said so explicitly. It is also a calculation that has reinforced a deeper shift in China’s foreign and domestic policy.

China, under Mr. Xi, no longer feels compelled to cooperate — or at least be seen as cooperating — with the United States and its allies on anything other than its own terms.

Still, Mr. Xi’s recent absence from the global stage has complicated China’s ambition to position itself as an alternative to American leadership. And it has coincided with, some say contributed to, a sharp deterioration in the country’s relations with much of the rest of the world.

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