Balance of Power: Xi’s Awkward Visit
Balance of Power: Xi’s Awkward Visit
From Davos to Mar-a-Lago, Xi Jinping has traveled far to demonstrate China’s new swagger on the world stage. On Thursday, he finally got to Hong Kong for the first time since taking power in 2012.
Xi is visiting Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return from British rule. But he will also find a city simmering with anxiety about its future under a richer, more assertive China. Since his predecessor’s last visit, Hong Kong has seen a series of mass demonstrations as locals — especially younger ones — protest that Beijing is breaking its pledge to respect the city’s unique status and encroaching on free speech and the judiciary.
So the 48-hour stopover poses at least as much of a challenge for Xi as his foreign trips to meet Donald Trump or defend globalization at the World Economic Forum. While many residents hope he’ll reassure Hong Kong of Beijing’s benevolence, he can’t appear to tolerate any effort to weaken China from within, especially ahead of a Communist Party reshuffle later this year that will determine his influence into the next decade.
For Xi — like all Chinese leaders before him — internal stability is paramount.
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