The mere juxtaposition of events in Hong Kong with festivities marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China (PRC) last Tuesday is a slap in the face to Beijing and a victory for the pro-democracy protesters. The Communist Party leadership has many reasons to celebrate, but there is no missing the tensions that are present in contemporary China. Hong Kong is the most pointed of those concerns, but it is not the only one.
This week’s celebrations had something for everyone. There was symbolism: President Xi Jinping in the very spot overlooking Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong declared establishment of the PRC in 1949. There was raw power: A military parade showed off the country’s expanding arsenal of weapons, with emphasis on its nuclear capabilities. As one exuberant commentator noted, adversaries have been warned, friends reassured.