A Double Whammy for China

A Double Whammy for China
AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File

China had two setbacks in November, reminders that centralized communist governance is not appreciated worldwide. First, Hong Kong reported record turnout for district council elections, widely regarded as a referendum on China's control. Pro-democratic forces won by a landslide, taking control over 17 of the 18 councils from establishment candidates supported by China. Then, US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law despite China's warnings over damage to bilateral relations. “The dual shock seems to have led China, for now, to adopt a conciliatory posture, asking the victorious democrats to help strengthen Hong Kong's ‘one country two systems,'” explains journalist Frank Ching. For now, he detects a softer tone in coverage of Hong Kong by China's state media, adding “there are limits to what Beijing can do to retaliate against the United States for the new Hong Kong act, especially amid a struggling economy and the desire for trade talks to bear fruit.” China expects pro-democracy council members, who typically make recommendations on mundane matters, to lead on bringing order to the city. Anyone yearning for democracy, whether in Hong Kong or Western powers, must choose their battles. Compromise is required.

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