Beijing’s battle plan for Hong Kong
Photo by Xaume Olleros—AFP/Getty Images
The rapid escalation of the pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong caught almost everyone by surprise.
Within a matter of days, after battling riot police and tear gas, the student-led movement succeeded in paralyzing key sections of Asia’s commercial hub and focusing the world’s attention on a political crisis that could cause a grave deterioration in relations between China and the West.
At the moment, the biggest worry hinges on whether Beijing will use force, Tiananmen-style, to crush the peaceful protest. The Chinese government could do so either by ordering the Hong Kong authorities to send in anti-riot police again or by deploying the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops stationed in the former British colony. Based on the announcement made by Hong Kong’s chief executive CY Leung that he expects the protest to “last a long time” and the muted public response from Beijing so far, it appears that the Chinese government has adopted a different strategy, at least for now.
Minxin Pei joined GMF as a non-resident senior fellow for Asia in 2012. As part of the Asia team, Pei advances GMF’s work on the implications of China’s rise for the West, supports Stockholm China Forum, and manages a research project on China’s economic and political transition.