Sticking to the official line became critical for political survival, as President Xi Jinping’s grip on power tightened and the space for free speech narrowed. In the western region of Xinjiang, over a million Uighurs were dispatched to a new gulag archipelago, victims of a security paranoia and growing Islamophobia spreading across the country. Meanwhile, the Chinese technological-security state took on an increasingly dystopic, and sometimes incompetent, tinge, even if it wasn’t always all that Western media accounts claimed. In Washington, talk of a “new Cold War” with Beijing became more common, and even Canada found itself drawn into the conflict after it detained a top executive at Huawei and China retaliated with the arrest of three Canadian citizens.
Here are five Foreign Policy pieces from 2018 that captured something of a vast and increasingly opaque country.