The more pushback Xi Jinping faces globally, the more aggressive his domestic and foreign policy agenda is likely to become.
Greg Baker — AFP via Getty
The Spring Festival is when the Chinese are at their sprightly best. The spectacular dragon and lion dances, music performances, and people sending out New Year greetings create a festive air. This year, however, the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the revelry, forcing the government to order citizens to be sequestered in their homes. But in the aftermath of the world grappling with the contagion, China seemed to embody Winston Churchill’s saying: never let a good crisis go to waste.
Hong Kong became one of the most significant arenas where the Communist Party of China came down with full might. The special administration region, which enjoys autonomy, had been on the boil since June 2019 over a legislation (which was later scrapped) that would allow the local government to extradite criminals to the mainland. Demonstrators had resorted to vandalism over the law, an act that the Communist Party of China saw as a challenge to its writ. The island had witnessed protests earlier in 2014, when demonstrators lay siege to parts of the island seeking reforms to the electoral process. This time round, the reprisals were swift and unflinching. On 30 June 2020, minutes before the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the British, China’s legislature approved a new national security law for Hong Kong. While critics contend that the law essentially curbs dissent and civil liberties, China insists it will in help restoration of stability. Beijing backed up its efforts to bring to heel a recalcitrant opposition by passing another law that empowers the government to expel lawmakers in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council without recourse to judicial process. Following this, four legislators were disqualified over national security grounds, and the remaining opposition resigned in protest.