In addition to the struggling economy, deteriorating relations with China and the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Trump also faces critical policy decisions on cybersecurity and preventing foreign interference.
Officials are starting to realise that, unlike on Chinese social media, they can’t manipulate public opinion on Twitter without being challenged. Instead, their accounts come under heavy scrutiny, their views are opposed and they attract trolls.
The popularity of apps such as TikTok and WeChat among the growing overseas Chinese community raises concerns in the West about Chinese government influence. Given the size of their markets in China, it is hard for them to stand up to the Communist Party’s censorship demands.
The overseas propaganda arm of China has suffered major defeats this year, with regard to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the trade war. Officials show so little understanding of how democracies work, they almost seem to be trying to make China look bad.
Recent attacks on birthright citizenship happen as China’s metropolises toughen standards for migrant workers. For decades, migration has been the key to a better life for many Chinese, and these shifts will hit the middle class especially hard.
The inconsistencies in messaging confuse others about China’s intent, while the strict censorship and jingoistic tone invite questions about the government’s credibility, both at home and abroad.