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All That is Solid Melts into Air

This photo taken on April 5, 2022 shows people wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as they transfer daily food supplies and necessities for local residents during the Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai. STR / AFP

The last few years’ conversations about China’s global rise ran on a few assumptions: that China’s outward trajectory through initiatives like the Belt and Road will continue uninterrupted, that China’s capacity for overseas lending won’t diminish, and that its role as an export economy serving the Amazons of the world is locked in.

Similar assumptions undergirded Global South calculations about China’s continued willingness to weather risk while fueling fears in the Global North about China exporting its centrally planned model to the rest of the world and weakening Western-shaped liberal norms.

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