The protests in Hong Kong present Beijing with its most alarming internal challenge since Tiananmen Square. Although it is premature to label events in Hong Kong an uprising, this may not be the case for much longer. Chinese President Xi Jinping has so far handled the situation in Hong Kong delicately and with an abundance of restraint. Unfortunately, the velvet glove approach has failed to have the desired effect. The protesters actions and demands have become bolder. Hong Kong is defying the Chinese government and getting away with it. If the current disruptions in Hong Kong threaten to spread onto the Mainland, Beijing will be forced to replace the velvet glove with an iron fist. And the possibility is beginning to cause concern in Washington, and other Western capitals.
The White House has expressed concern about a growing buildup of Chinese troops, and armed police on Hong Kong’s border. Weeks of often violent unrest in Hong Kong has stretched the city’s police force to the breaking point and shows no signs of letting up in the near future. Beijing has blamed the United States for playing a role in the creation of the protests even though there is no proof of US involvement. The root causes of the protests in Hong Kong are well known and have been documented in detail. Right now, the greater concern is how the situation in Hong Kong will end.
If the Chinese government declares events in Hong Kong to be an uprising, it likely will mean a bloody crackdown is on the horizon. It will also signal the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ concept that has guided Beijing’s policies regarding Hong Kong since 1997.