A man’s behaviour is often shaped by his perceptions of the world around him. He may feel relaxed in a safe and comfortable environment, but turn alert and defensive in a hostile one. A country’s chosen strategies and decisions, to some extent, are also a reflection of policymakers’ impression of the world. China’s inward-looking economic strategy, known as dual circulation , emerged as China’s reading of the world changed. According to the transcript of a speech by President Xi Jinping in January that was recently published, the coronavirus’ disruption of cross-border trade flows directly contributed to Beijing’s new economic strategy. In Xi’s own words, he found that “the global supply chain witnessed a partial breakdown” in early 2020, when he toured the coastal province of Zhejiang as the coronavirus was spreading throughout the world. As a result, part of China’s domestic economy stopped functioning, as “many local companies couldn’t source much-needed materials from abroad, overseas personnel couldn’t get into China, and cargos couldn’t be shipped out”. The situation helped him conclude that “the circumstances have become very different”, and that the old model of importing massive amounts of materials to process for re-exports is no longer workable. As such, Xi determined that China must rely less on the outside world. China’s month-long consumption campaign aims to ‘unleash spending potential’ of Chinese people Xi’s explanation reflected the tactical and strategic thinking of China’s leadership – that relying on the domestic market was essential while fighting a two-front war to restart the national economy and keep the coronavirus at bay. China’s economic trajectory in the following months proved that Xi’s tactic has worked. Successfully controlling the coronavirus at home helped fuel the country’s economic rebound while strengthening China’s role as the world’s primary production base. Xi’s view will continue to be tested, particularly if retreating globalisation and rising geopolitical tensions prove to be permanent in a fundamentally different post-pandemic world. A recent joint statement from the US-led G7 group confirmed Beijing’s perception that the world will be less accommodating in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness. “As long as we can stand on our own and be self-reliant, and maintain a vibrant flow of goods and services domestically, then we will be invincible no matter how the storm changes internationally,” Xi said. “We will survive and continue to develop, and nobody can beat us or choke us to death.” This is a strong perception that China has no other choice but to rely more on itself in a dangerous world.