Opinion: Christian Whiton: China’s Xi looks increasingly dazed and confused – Could Hong Kong win this showdown? - PressFrom - US
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OpinionChristian Whiton: China’s Xi looks increasingly dazed and confused – Could Hong Kong win this showdown?

20:45  14 august  2019
20:45  14 august  2019 Source:   foxnews.com

HK activists, Beijing supporters demonstrate in London

HK activists, Beijing supporters demonstrate in London Demonstrators backing the democracy activists in Hong Kong marched in London on Saturday, as counter-protesters staged a rival rally. 

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Christian Whiton: China’s Xi looks increasingly dazed and confused – Could Hong Kong win this showdown?© Provided by Fox News Network LLC

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When Xi Jinping effectively crowned himself emperor at the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in 2017, consolidating his power by ending a practice of term limits, China was supposed to be ready for its next stage of his meteoric rise.

In a triumphal speech, Xi heralded a “new era” of Chinese power and predicted the nation would become a “mighty force” under his control. But as the summer of 2019 drags on, Xi and the government he leads look increasingly weak and lost.

Trump, Trudeau discussed developments in Hong Kong, Canadians held in China

Trump, Trudeau discussed developments in Hong Kong, Canadians held in China U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the Hong Kong protests and the ongoing detention of two Canadians by the Chinese government, a statement from Trudeau's office said on Friday. © Reuters/JONATHAN ERNST U.S. President Trump meets with Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau at the White House in Washington The Hong Kong protests started as a peaceful rebuke of the government in April but have evolved into a direct challenge to Communist Party rule over this former British colony.

China’s economy is in the doldrums, put there in part by President Trump’s decision to change U.S. tactics dramatically in long-running trade disputes. Last month, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics reported the slowest economic growth since 1992.  China’s manufacturing index has indicated contraction for all but two months so far this year.

In July, imports fell 5.6% compared to a year before, partly due to less demand for inputs to manufacturing that increasingly is moving out of China.  (In the first quarter of this year, foreign investors pumped $10.8 billion into neighboring Vietnam, an increase of 86.2 percent.)  China has also nationalized three banks since May with more bailouts expected as its overextended financial system faces extreme risk.

China rejects US Navy request for Hong Kong port visits amid protests

China rejects US Navy request for Hong Kong port visits amid protests Amid ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese officials have rejected a US request to have two US Navy ships make port visits there in the coming weeks. "The Chinese Government denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong by the USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, which were scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks," Cmdr. Nate Christensen, the deputy spokesman for the US Navy's Pacific Fleet, told CNN in a statement on Tuesday. The amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay was scheduled to visit Hong Kong on August 17 and the guided missile-cruiser USS Lake Erie was scheduled to visit next month.

A fair assessment of the U.S.-China trade war shows Washington winning the dispute, although not everyone agrees. In his weekly New York Times column titled “China Tries to Teach Trump Economics,” progressive economist Paul Krugman argued that the president, “…vastly overrates his ability to inflict damage on China while underrating the damage China can do in return.”

In fact, Trump has proven that the opposite is true in imposing tariffs—for a simple reason.  Last year, America imported $540 billion in goods from China and exported only $120 billion worth.  As the far bigger customer in this relationship, the United States has the power. Even if Beijing stopped all $120 billion in U.S. imports, that amounts to only about half of one percent of U.S. GDP.  The impact of tariffs on U.S. consumers has also been negligible.  As the former CEO of Toys R Us recently explained, tariffs are “a fraction of a percent…on the average annual consumer basket.”

Hong Kong braces for fresh protests as marchers set to defy police ban

Hong Kong braces for fresh protests as marchers set to defy police ban Hong Kong braces for fresh protests as marchers set to defy police ban

Oddly Xi has conducted himself as though a trade deal would be a favor to Washington. In the lead-up to the G20 summit in Osaka in June, Xi was noncommittal as to whether he would deign to meet with Trump. When he did, his government quickly reneged on promises he made to buy more U.S. food.

Clearly Xi wants to stall past next year’s presidential election, hoping to outlast Trump. This itself is disingenuous for a country that is mythologized for long-term strategy and deep analysis of its adversaries: economic and historical factors favor Trump for reelection, and, regardless, the story of the decade is Washington’s bipartisan sea change in sentiment toward China.

And then there is Hong Kong. Beijing has gradually been eroding the relative autonomy it promised in repossessing the territory from Britain in 1997, as well as its agreement to allow free elections with universal suffrage. Given its congenital unwillingness to leave well enough alone, Beijing attempted to have its puppets in the territory allow extradition to the Mainland—effectively importing its political repression into a city that has long been effectively part of the West.

Chinese Champion Huawei Under Fire for Calling Taiwan a Country

Chinese Champion Huawei Under Fire for Calling Taiwan a Country Yet another company is coming under fire for implying that Taiwan is independent from China. Only this time it’s Chinese national champion Huawei Technologies Co. People on the country’s Weibo messaging service have expressed outrage that some Huawei and Honor smartphones listed “Taipei (Taiwan)” for users who select as their language of choice traditional Chinese, which is used on the island. Customers who select simplified Chinese — used on the mainland — would see "Taipei (China).

The result has been stunning. Massive demonstrations have continued throughout summer, most recently closing the airport. This in a city that supposedly cared singularly about money and where it was long said that only a tiny minority would do more than lament the erosion of freedom. Evidently not.

Worst of all for Beijing, while students and the young are the most active protesters, they are joined by Hong Kong residents from all walks of life—civil servants, bankers, flight attendants, teachers, and the like. The real crisis that events in Hong Kong pose is the question of whether Mainlanders are also poised to challenge the government.

Xi likely believes he can blow past demonstrations in Hong Kong as Beijing did amid smaller protests in 2014. But that doesn’t seem to be the case: average Hong Kong residents have decided that they must defend freedom now.

Xi is unlikely to resort to a Tiananmen Square-style massacre with the People’s Liberation Army in a repeat of 1989. More probable is an invasion of Hong Kong with civilian or paramilitary police, some of whom are training next door in Shenzhen. But even this step would bring foreign condemnation, likely end free nations’ treatment of Hong Kong as a separate trade and customs entity from the Mainland, and curtail what is left of foreign investment in China. Put simply, Xi has painted himself into a corner.

The greatness Xi forecast in his 2017 ascension to paramount leader thus remains elusive. His tenure is marked by internal political turmoil that will be costly and difficult to control. China’s trade scheme is at risk, as is the broader economy, and with it, the rationale for having one-party communist rule in China. It’s a cruel summer.

U.S. Issues Travel Warning to Hong Kong Due to ‘Confrontational’ Protests.
The United States on Wednesday issued an advisory warning people about traveling to Hong Kong, urging visitors to “exercise increased caution” because of “confrontational” protests in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. The alert by the State Department comes two days after a general strike and widespread demonstrations shook the city, and as Chinese officials have warned about the continuing unrest. “Since June 2019, several large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong,” the advisory warned. “Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes.

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This is interesting!