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Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

As the Chinese Communist Party's 100th anniversary draws nearer, China's domestic environment has become more focused on nationalism and hardline ideology, a trend also affecting the country's international relations.

The big picture: Beijing is broadcasting confidence and swagger, often for the benefit of domestic audiences, but other countries and international companies are feeling the effects.

  • China's leaders often tighten political restrictions around major events and anniversaries; the centennial so far has seen an exaggerated version of this response.

Taiwan: 2021 has seen big shows of force, with Beijing sending jet fighters on numerous incursions into Taiwanese airspace and holding naval drills in nearby waters.

  • "In the lead-up to the centenary of the founding of the CCP, it would be very hard to see Beijing, or Xi Jinping, giving any leeway whatsoever on issues related to national sovereignty," Russell Hsiao, executive director of the DC-based Global Taiwan Institute, told Axios.
  • But "an uncontrollable event could potentially spoil Xi Jinping’s desire to have a choreographed display of nationalism and patriotic fervor in support of the Chinese Communist Party," Hsiao said.
  • Hsiao added that Beijing isn't likely to intentionally engage in actual military hostilities during this time. "An uncontrollable escalation over Taiwan would not be in Xi’s interest."

Patriotic boycotts: In March, international brands from H&M to Hugo Boss to Adidas were targets of a state-fanned consumer boycott, as Chinese netizens expressed outrage at these companies' disavowal of Xinjiang cotton amid reports of forced labor in the cotton industry there.

EU sanctions: The Chinese government levied unprecedented sanctions on European researchers, organizations, and even members of the EU Parliament for calling out the party's repression in Xinjiang.

  • The sanctions were largely symbolic and seem to have backfired; the EU has suspended the EU-China investment treaty approved just months earlier.

Go deeper

Aug 30, 2021 - World

European Union recommends halting non-essential travel from the U.S.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Hans Lucas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Council of the European Union voted on Monday to recommend reinstating a ban on non-essential travel from the United States due to its high rate of COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: The decision, which is non-binding and will ultimately be up to individual member states to implement, comes after weeks of EU officials criticizing the Biden administration for not lifting U.S. restrictions on travel from Europe.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

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