Date: October 9, 2019
By: Michael Mazza, Visiting Fellow
It is tragic, though perhaps appropriate, that the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been marked by the spilling of the blood. On October 1st, when the PRC was showing off its most advanced military hardware in Beijing, a Hong Kong police officer shot a demonstrator in the chest with a live round of ammunition. With the anniversary’s passing and with blood on the street, the contest between Hong Kong’s people on the one hand and Hong Kong and Beijing authorities on the other may be entering a new phase.
It has now been well over four months and the demonstrations in Hong Kong have shown no signs of petering out. The 70th anniversary celebration might have served as an inflection point, but the police shooting and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s invocation of emergency powers seem more likely to galvanize protesters than to deter them from taking to the streets. Nor is there much reason to believe that the authorities are willing to compromise in a meaningful way. Xi Jinping has exercised relative restraint thus far, but Hong Kong may not be out of the woods just yet.
There are no upcoming national holidays in China that Beijing is likely to see as a “deadline” for solving the unrest in Hong Kong, but it may not be China’s political calendar that dictates its approach to the semi-autonomous territory. Instead, Xi Jinping may be thinking about Taiwan’s political calendar as he considers how and when to resolve ongoing strife in Hong Kong. [FULL STORY]