This past weekend, pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong won what the New York Times characterized as a “stunning victory” in local elections.
Not only did a record number of voters turn out, something widely seen as a referendum on the ongoing anti-Beijing protests, but pro-democracy forces won 389 of 452 parliamentary seats. That’s more than triple their previous total. Meanwhile, pro-Beijing forces saw their total seats collapse, from more than 300 to just 58.
Now the obvious question is: How will Xi Jinping and his Communist cadres respond to this unmistakable show of support for the protesters that have given them so much trouble for so long?
The most likely answer is, “not well.” Beijing’s proxies in Hong Kong have already stepped up their use of force against protesters. A week ago, police stormed the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, using water cannons, tear gas, and beanbag rounds against what it dubbed “coldblooded rioters.”
Afterwards, the police superintendent made it clear that using “real bullets” was not off the table. These election results make those “real bullets” even more likely.
Here’s why. Despite everything we hear about China’s ascendancy, China is a lot weaker than it appears, especially economically. China’s economic growth has already slowed to “its slowest pace in nearly three decades of modern record-keeping.”
And all indicators suggest that the slowdown will only continue. As one commentator put it, “Its labor force is shrinking, and the country is already full of roads, rails and factories, limiting potential new investment.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera