On April 18, Beijing intensified its crackdown on the people of Hong Kong by arresting 14 high-profile Hong Kong democracy activists on charges of “illegal assembly.” Those arrested include the 82-year-old Martin Lee Chu-ming, considered the “grandfather of democracy” in Hong Kong, and media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, owner of the largest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily.These arrests are a classic example of opportunism by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The regime of Xi Jinping apparently has calculated that:The pandemic provides a distraction, and thus an opportunity, for a preemptive strike against the opposition that will thwart protests likely to occur around June 9, the first anniversary of the Hong Kong anti-extradition legislation protests. The United States, United Kingdom and other democratic powers, consumed by domestic challenges, are unable to react in meaningful ways, beyond condemning the arrests. The only liability the CCP likely will face is lip service supporting abstract principles.In the context of the global financial crisis caused by the pandemic, Hong Kong’s economy is even less a reason for restraint than when the protests were at their peak and Western voices were the strongest. Given the massive decline in China’s exports, Hong Kong’s special trade status is a minor factor.Fear… Read full this story
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