Andrew Coflan is a China analyst at Eurasia Group. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.The quarantines and local-level lockdowns put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak will likely cause Chinese economic output to decline in the first three months of the year — the first contraction in more than four decades for what was formerly one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Though the extent and duration of the downturn will not be known for several months, it is already becoming clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping will leverage the crisis to further bolster his power as the country’s leader as he seeks to return China to what he views as its rightful position as a preeminent global power.This may seem surprising given Xi’s initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Xi disappeared from sight for more than a week just days after Beijing was forced to acknowledge the virus, spurring social media speculations and criticism of his aloofness. This reflected especially poorly on Xi because the ruling Chinese Communist Party has long predicated its legitimacy on effective governance, including delivering consistent economic growth and rising standards of living. So why is Xi poised to emerge from this


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