China’s Maneuvering Spells Turbulence for Hong Kong, Analysts Say

Analysts are predicting that China’s recent high-profile posturing over Hong Kong signals a bumpy political future for the semiautonomous city and the likely return of mass protests.They were reacting to last week’s arrest of 15 prominent democracy activists on charges of illegal assembly, A man sits next to a fountain at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Hong Kong on April 21, 2020.Meanwhile, Steve Tsang, director of University of London’s SOAS China Institute, said Western democracies’ failure to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak means Chinese President Xi Jinping “is no longer feeling vulnerable because of his earlier mismanagement of the pandemic, and he is not feeling under much pressure from within the establishment.”Analysts warn that China’s repression in Hong Kong will intensify in the near future, with some believing China is pushing the city to pass the legislation before September’s legislative election. The authorities are nervous that the pro-democracy camp may claim a majority in the same way that A man wears a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 as he walks along a street in Hong Kong on April 21, 2020.“To the extent that the city is no longer able to retain the confidence of investors, its population and the economy will be quickly de-internationalized, whilst politically and socially Hong Kong is forced to undergo rapid mainlandization,” Chan said.Wu Qiang, a political scientist formerly with Beijing’s Tsinghua University, said an authoritarian country with national security threats at the top of its priorities, does not always make rational choices, however.“Beijing’s consistent attitude … is to bolster state security to complete its control of Hong Kong,” he said.Analysts and activists warn China’s iron-fisted policy toward Hong Kong may ultimately backfire.  Many ordinary Hong Kong people are already saying they would take to the streets again if the anti-subversion legislation goes ahead, reviving the anti-government movement which has largely paused amid the coronavirus pandemic.“The government will not succeed in instilling fear in the public,” said Chan. “The more they harass, bully, humiliate and battle their opponents, the more they turn people against them.”  

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