The leader of Hong Kong recently met with foreign journalists for the first time since the outbreak of the pro-democracy protest movement that has been grabbing headlines for weeks. In his comments, he repeated what Chinese President Xi Jinping and his National Security Commission reportedly decided last week: China will not back down. The New York Times reports:
The Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday evening that it was unacceptable to allow his successors to be chosen in open elections, in part because doing so would risk giving poorer residents a dominant voice in politics. […]
Mr. Leung, who has received repeated backing from the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership, argued that the way to remedy social grievances was to expand the supply of housing and spur economic growth. He stressed the importance of maintaining the confidence of Hong Kong’s corporate elite, saying that was one of the goals of the city’s Basic Law, written a quarter-century ago after Britain handed sovereignty over Hong Kong back to China. […]A tenacious protest movement has spread beyond its initial student base to embrace discontented middle-class and blue-collar residents. But they face an unyielding Chinese Communist Party leadership, which has said the demonstrators have no chance of securing their demands.
Beijing’s and Hong Kong’s leaders are sending the clear message that the Party holds the leash, and it is only as long as as they want it to be. The whole world is watching as Beijing responds to this challenge, and the stakes are high.The unfolding test of Party authority is of particular interest to those in places that operate under alternative systems to that of China proper, such as those in its peripheral zone like Xianjiang and even to some extent Guangdong. But the most important and affected “periphery” is Taiwan, and we encourage you to read Richard Rosecrance’s essay explaining why. In those places, the precedent that is set in the current Hong Kong uproar will either undermine or uphold the CCP’s “one country, two systems” framework. The people in charge of China are not fools; they understand this. So they are not going to give an inch that, they rightly think, invites the people to take a mile.