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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.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

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