It was always clear that Xi Jinping would strengthen his power this year. The question is what he will do with it.
This year could see China turn towards greater economic openness -- or harsher political repression. Both are also possible.
A five-yearly Party Congress will consolidate the power of President Xi Jinping by giving him the chance to fill the top leadership team with allies. But it is not just China that Xi may have to lead. Under Donald Trump, the United States has left Beijing as the unlikely champion of open markets and leader of the global fight against climate change, albeit on its own terms.
For in the place of an open internet comes 'cyber sovereignty'; and instead of the Bretton Woods institutions have come China-led counterparts: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and One Belt, One Road.
- Will Xi use his power to push through difficult economic reforms -- or will power be an end in itself?
- Could a rival faction make a comeback?
- Will repression be enough to hold China together as bad debts are written off, millions of workers laid off and economic growth slows to unprecedented lows?
- Has Donald Trump's isolationism left a global leadership vacuum -- and will China be able to fill it?
Researcher in the Law and Governance of ChinaLeiden University
Senior AssociateCarnegie Endowment for International Peace
Deutsche Bank Director, China CentreUniversity of Oxford
Professor & DirectorKeck Center for International and Strategic Studies