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US 2020 election: Who does China really want to win?
As arguably the most consequential exercises in democracy on the planet, they are always closely followed by government officials in Beijing.

But as potential reminders of just how little choice 1.4 billion people are given over their own political future, media coverage in China is tightly controlled.

This time round though, in a US election defined by a still spiralling pandemic, a shattered economic landscape and deep political polarisation, China senses that something has changed.

It is not Chinese authoritarianism but western democracy that suddenly seems to be facing a crisis of legitimacy.

The world's freest and wealthiest economy, once thought to be so much better placed to fight the virus with its tools of transparency and accountability, has fallen well short.

While China, despite an initial cover-up thought to expose its inherent weaknesses, has gone on to use the sweeping powers of a unitary, surveillance state to test and quarantine people at will, en masse and to great effect.

Factories, shops, restaurants, schools and universities are all open, passenger numbers on public transport are just a little below average, and it is the only major economy expected to grow, rather than shrink this year.

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