“The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl” – wrote former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the nuclear disaster – “even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the main cause of the Soviet Union’s collapse five years later.” He went on to write that “the Chernobyl catastrophe was a historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.”While the outcome from the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic is still unclear for both China and the rest of the world, there is no doubt that already the magnitude of the impact from the virus represents a Chernobyl-like historic turning point for the Chinese leadership and its ability to command political legitimacy. Undoubtedly, in the 21st-century history of Chinese authoritarianism, there will be an “era before the disaster” and a “very different era that has followed.” But how far can we go with the Chernobyl historical analogy?
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Why Shinzo Abe Visited Serbia The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greeted by the Serbian President, Alexander Vucic on January 16, 2018 On January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a five-day trip to northern and southeastern Europe. After visiting Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, he went to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania. His trip to the Baltic and the Balkan regions fits within Tokyo’s decades-long attempts to establish itself as a global economic and political leader, and to increase its sphere of influence via the use of soft power and the employment of its financial prowess as a diplomatic lever. On his Balkan leg of the trip, a few points require attention. The least important one, but also perhaps the most entertaining, was Abe’s visit to Romania, which would have been a boring diplomatic success for both sides complete with even more boring press communiques — had the Romanian prime minister, Mihai Tudose, not resigned the night before Abe’s a