torsdag 13. juni 2019

Beijing walks a thin line as Hong Kong erupts at the worst possible time

This week's violent protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill couldn't come at a worse time for China's stability-obsessed Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping. Facing a weakening economy, and with trade tensions with the United States at an all-time high, experts say Xi is under pressure to deliver on the enormous power he's amassed since coming to power in late 2012.

Tens of thousands of mostly young protestors took to the streets again on Wednesday, temporarily shutting down Hong Kong's Legislative Council and surrounding streets, and forcing a delay in the proposed reading of the bill. At least 79 people were injured throughout the day, as an estimated 5,000 riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters. Experts say Beijing doesn't want to be seen to back down on the extradition law but can't afford to inflame matters with a serious crackdown. The dilemma has left the normally blunt Xi administration with a narrow line to walk to avoid escalating the Hong Kong crisis.