A lesser man than Xi Jinping might have found it uncomfortable. Meeting Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week, China’s leader spoke of “peaceful co-existence and win-win co-operation", while supping with somebody facing an international arrest warrant for war crimes. But Mr Xi is untroubled by trivial inconsistencies. He believes in the inexorable decline of the American-led world order, with its professed concern for rules and human rights. He aims to twist it into a more transactional system of deals between great powers. Do not underestimate the perils of this vision—or its appeal around the world.