Xi Sticks to His Vision for China’s Rise Even as Growth Slows

Even with growth faltering in China, Xi Jinping appears imperiously assured that he possesses the right road map to surpass Western rivals.

China’s economy has lurched into a slower gear. Its population is shrinking and aging. Its rival, the United States, has built up a lead in artificial intelligence. Mr. Xi’s pronouncement several years ago that the “East is rising and West is declining” — that his country was on the way up while American power shrank — now seems premature, if not outright hubristic.

The problems have brought growing talk abroad that China could peak before it fully arrives as a superpower. But Mr. Xi seems unbowed in insisting that his policies, featuring extensive party control and state-led industrial investment in new sectors like electric vehicles and semiconductors, can secure China’s rise.

In a mark of that confidence, his government announced last week that China’s economy was likely to grow about 5 percent this year, much the same pace as last year, according to official statistics. And Mr. Xi emphasized his ambitions for a new phase of industrial growth driven by innovation, acting as if the past year or two of setbacks were an aberration.

“Faced with a technological revolution and industrial transformation, we must seize the opportunity,” he told delegates at China’s annual legislative meeting in Beijing, who were shown on television ardently applauding him.

He later told another group at the legislative session that China had to “win the battle for key core technologies,” and he told People’s Liberation Army officers to build up “strategic capabilities in emerging areas,” which, the officers indicated, included artificial intelligence, cyberoperations and space technology.

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