Is Xi Mishandling Hong Kong Crisis? Hints of Unease in China’s Leadership – The New York Times
The governmentâs deepest fear now appears to be that the demands for greater political accountability and even universal suffrage heard on the streets in Hong Kong could spread like a contagion through the mainland. So far, there have been few signs of that.
As the crisis has grown, the government has dispatched thousands of troops from the Peopleâs Armed Police to Shenzhen, the mainland city adjacent to Hong Kong, but the exercise was hastily organized and used an outdated plan drawn up after the protests in 2014, according to one official in Hong Kong.
Beijing also stepped up its propaganda, launching an information â and disinformation â campaign against the protesters and opposition leaders in Hong Kong.
Mr. Xi continues to barely mention Hong Kong. He has said nothing about the protests, even in his passing reference on Tuesday. He has not visited since 2017, when he marked the 20th anniversary of the handover from Britain.
After the traditional August holiday break, Mr. Xiâs public calendar of events has since betrayed no hint of political upheaval or threats to his standing. The mediaâs portrayal of him, already verging on hagiography, became even more fawning. State television and the partyâs newspapers now refer to him as âThe Peopleâs Leader,â an honorific once bestowed only on Mao.
âThe Peopleâs Leader loves the people,â The Peopleâs Daily wrote after Mr. Xi toured Gansu, a province in western China.
Mr. Xiâs calculation might be simply to remain patient, as he has been in the case of President Trumpâs erratic shifts in the trade war. In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Xi also gave a possible hint of the governmentâs pragmatism.
âOn matters of principle, not an inch will be yielded,â he said, âbut on matters of tactics there can be flexibility.â