It is safe to say that the Chinese Communist Party leadership has not always been universally admired, notably when Prince Charles described them as a “group of appalling old waxworks” after the handover of Hong Kong. This was a level of diplomacy rarely seen since the opening salvoes of the Opium War, and the days are long gone when a colonial nabob could pitch up in a uniform reminiscent of a Neapolitan ice cream seller and demand allegiance to the great she-wallah over the seas.

President Xi Jinping has been flexing his muscles ahead of his attempt to secure an unprecedented third term in office at the party conference later this year, first by reining in the private sector under the banner of his “common prosperity” doctrine, and more recently by his aggressive pursuit of zero Covid, which caused Shanghai port volumes to shrink by 20% in April alone. After the regulatory onslaught that saw trillions of dollars wiped off the valuation of China’s top companies, Alibaba’s fi...

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