A Note from the Desk of Xi Jinping
Memo to Self:
According to all my advisers, not to mention those China experts in the West, this Hong Kong situation will end either in a bloodbath or a humiliating defeat for my Communist Party.
Well, I haven't established myself as China's strongest and smartest leader since Deng Xiaoping for nothing. I think I can outwit them all - do something Deng couldn't do - and avoid both bad outcomes.
The way I see it, if Nixon could go to China, why can't I go to Hong Kong? If Kennedy could say I am a Berliner, I can say I am a Hong Konger. Reagan told Gorbachev to Tear Down This Wall! Well, I can tell the Standing Committee to Rescind This Ruling!
Like that Greek guy with the tough knot no one could untie, I can cut through this bloody mess without creating an actual bloody mess. (C.Y. Leung, our handpicked Hong Kong administrator, said it well: "We don't want Hong Kong to be messy.")
All it takes is a single bold stroke: Honoring our promise to allow local autonomy. Deng himself made the promise, and by making good on it, I would become an instant folk hero to the students and their supporters in Hong Kong. I would electrify worried sympathizers and disarm critics in the West. Finally, I would convert the cynics on Taiwan who fear their future looks a lot like Hong Kong's present.
Overnight, China's image in the world, not to mention my personal legacy, would get a huge favorable boost. Talk about win-win, this is a no-brainer.
As we say in China, crisis also means opportunity, so I won't blow it the way Deng did on June 4 by not going to Tiananmen Square himself. He sent Zhao Ziyang instead and then threw him under the bus. Ever since, whenever Deng's glorious achievements are discussed, the next sentence always begins with the words: "but Tiananmen." Mine will be "Hong Kong" but in a good way.
Sure, there will be blowback at first. My fellow hardliners in the Party will say I "lost" Hong Kong. Nixon's shocked conservative allies also objected to his China opening until they saw the political and strategic benefits of his move. But I'll be able to show that I actually saved Hong Kong for China by drawing out the poison of resentment against our reneging on democratic elections. My action will win the people's gratitude and loyalty and preserve the city as an important financial center (since Shanghai no longer seems a sure bet to replace it). I'll be saving Taiwan at the same time. I believe the Americans refer to that as a two-fer.
Besides, as potential critics well know, my anti-corruption campaign gives me plenty of ammunition to strike down dissent. I've already eliminated or delegitimized several rivals such as Bo Xilai, and others will keep quiet for fear they may be next, or be accused of favoring the corrupt status quo.
As for possible hotheads in the People's Liberation Army and Jiang Zemin's clique, I've already done a good job of pre-empting them by prioritizing the military in my first moves as head of the Party - visiting strategic installations, spending generously on the PLA, and highlighting the military as the critical component in my China Dream.
Then there's the slippery slope argument: that other cities and regions will want the same freedoms Hong Kong enjoys. I'm ready for that, too. First of all, since 1997 the Special Administrative Region has already enjoyed certain privileges that we don't allow elsewhere, such as an independent judiciary and the rule of law, and this hasn't proved uncontrollably contagious in the rest of China. Luckily, those 100,000 civil protests each year have never coalesced into a national movement.
Anyway, we've been talking for years about experimenting with democracy at the local level - democracy, sure, but always "with Chinese characteristics." Unfortunately, the Chinese people and the West have caught on to the real meaning of that phrase - it really means with Communist Party characteristics, which is just the way we're preparing to do it in Hong Kong.
Well, I'm not afraid of a little competition. After all, I grew up (kind of) on a farm in Iowa, where prominent American politicians who want to be president flock every four years. Yes, I have all my bases covered, and I'll show that lackluster Hu Jintao what a "harmonious society" really is.
This masterful stroke could win me the Nobel peace prize (Obama got it for much less). While I'm at it, I could release Liu Xiaobo from prison. After all of this, I should be so popular that I could become the first democratically elected Communist president of China. How does "I am a Tibetan" and "I am a Xinjianger" sound?