China’s President Xi Jinping has not traveled much over the past years, most lately he missed COP26 in Glasgow, nor has he received many foreign guests. Political analyst Victor Shih sees there is more behind Xi’s travel behavior than only an effect of the coronacrisis, he tells at Forbes.
Still, Xi’s halt in international travel has been conspicuous, especially compared with the frenetic pace he once maintained. The last time he left China was January 2020, on a visit to Myanmar only days before he ordered the lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus emerged.
Nor has Xi played host to many foreign officials. In the weeks after the lockdown, he met with the director of the World Health Organization and the leaders of Cambodia and Mongolia, but his last known meeting with a foreign official took place in Beijing in March 2020, with President Arif Alvi of Pakistan.
Victor Shih, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, said that Xi’s limited travel coincided with an increasingly nationalist tone at home that seems to preclude significant cooperation or compromise.
“He no longer feels that he needs international support because he has so much domestic support, or domestic control,” Shih said. “This general effort to court America and also the European countries is less today than it was during his first term.”
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