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Why the mighty Xi Jinping is afraid of the little Hong Kong

Chinese ruler Xi Jinping is worried. During his two-day visit to Hong Kong, he did not spend the night in a territory that was part of the People's Republic of China. Instead, he slept in Shenzhen across a border called "Mainland China." He came and went by a special train.

Xi came to Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Britain's "delivery" of territory to China. In a 1984 Sino-British Joint Statement, Beijing promised the city 50 years of "high autonomy" under the so-called "one country, two systems" formula.

"Hong Kong has experienced great challenges over the past few years and has won many challenges and obstacles," Xideclared in a short speech on the first day of his visit. Did. "Hong Kong has risen from the ashes."

No, Hong Kong has been conquered.

The territory experienced extensive protests and riots in 2019 when the government proposed a bill allowing Hong Kongers to be expelled to China — and the Communist Party's "justice" Faced with. China cracked down, especially in June 2020, by imposing a National Security Act that criminalizes complaints. Since then, Chinese authorities have run the territory by flooding it and dictating its chief political officer, Carrie Lam. They now dominate her successor, the carefully selected John Lee. John Lee will start his five-year term on Friday.

Xi dominates the city rapidly. Authorities have not allowed protests. They need "patriotic education". And they closed the independent media. Authorities repeatedly harassed and attacked Apple Daily, the region's most popular newspaper, and imprisoned owner Jimmy Lai and his senior officials. The dissertation was eventually forced to close. Hundreds of Hong Kongers have been imprisoned, many under national security law, correctly referred to in Hong Kong as the end of the law.

The government is busy dismissing foreign judges. The rule of law, where the city once had a great advantage over its rivals Shanghai and Shenzhen, is rapidly eroding. Hong Kong will continue to be a financial center, but only for China itself. Beijing censors "political" news, so we can't resist the temptation to censor business news as well. Internationally focused companies are afraid of what's coming and going to Singapore.

Xi Jinping's long-term goal is to integrate Hong Kong into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area region. His success in this effort will be the collapse of Hong Kong as it loses its uniqueness. As they say, Hong Kong is becoming "just another Chinese city".

And the most terrifying sign of the era is that the Hong Kong police are going to goose step, just like the Chinese army.

So why is Xi Jinping afraid to spend the night there when he controls Hong Kong?

China is currently hated in Hong Kong. The patriotism of pro-China exploded in 1997, the year of delivery. But now people in the region are increasingly self-aware as "Hong Kongers" rather than "Chinese." The University of Hong Konghas completed a polling poll programand many believe the move is in response to Beijing's confusion.

Xi Jinping
Reuters / SelimChtayti /

And people are voting on their own feet. Thousands of people will leave forever, many of them in the UK. The UK offers British National Overseas Visas that grant Hong Kongers the right to live, work and study there.

People who cannot leave Hong Kong resist. People in Hong Kong repeatedly booedChinese national anthem, "Volunteer March" at sporting events.

"This is a rebellion," war correspondent Michael Yon, who reported extensively on the 2019 protests, told me at the time. As he explained, the rebels blend into the background and they may appear dead, but often bounce off.

Xi Jinping
AP / Selim Chtayti

The protests in Hong Kong follow Yong's pattern. Without warning, more than 500,000 people came out in 2003 to prove that the Hong Kong government is trying to enact a national security law. The movement almost completely disappeared until the months of 2014's umbrella protests triggered by the government's re-elections against universal suffrage promised by Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. In 2019, a march involving about 2 million people took place over a proposal to hand over.

So why did Xi Jinping feel unsafe enough to stay in Hong Kong for one night? I suspect he knows that despite the intimidation of the world's largest communist nation, Hong Kong remains a hostile territory to him, home to freedom-loving rebels.

Gordon G. Chan is the author of "The Coming Collapse of China".

Twitter: @GordonGChang