By: The Economist

January 9, 2020

The world’s democracies desperately need a coherent approach to dealing with China. It is the 21st century’s ascendant power, but also an autocracy that mistrusts free markets and abuses human rights. However, recent events show how ineffective Western policy has become. On December 30th the European Union agreed on an investment pact with China that secured puny gains and gave China a diplomatic coup. The eu did so despite doubts among Joe Biden’s team (see article). New York’s stock exchange banned several Chinese firms’ shares, only to change its mind twice in a few days. Congress has so far failed to pass a bill to protect Uyghurs from forced labour (see article).

As the West stumbles, China is busy cracking down at home and expanding its influence abroad. On January 6th more than 50 democracy activists were arrested in Hong Kong (see article).