The COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire world to adjust to a “new” China. Not only did Beijing rely on more aggressive tools to conduct diplomacy, but the post-electoral U.S. strategy towards the Dragon has also promised to match this level of assertiveness in the years to come, thus sanctioning the continuation of the bilateral competition. Yet, from the deadline of China’s key development plan, the well-known “Made in China 2025” to the ambitious goal presented by President Xi Jinping at the United Nations General Assembly in late September of becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2060, China has no intention to shy away from its international objectives and aims to continue moving towards the “centre” of the international system. How will the COVID-19 economy and China’s grand objectives change Western engagement in the short-term? What can we learn from past experiences that can help us navigate today and tomorrow’s China? To what extent will worsen perceptions of China influence relations between the country and its European partners?