As Hong Kong recovered from its most violent day of protests last week, Beijing's English-language "Global Times" newspaper led on the celebrations of 70 years of communist rule. The celebrations, it argued, showed the peaceful intent and unity of Chinese society — illustrating the article with a picture of a new ballistic missile it said could drop nuclear warheads on any place on earth.

Overall, President Xi Jinping may well have been largely satisfied with the optics of Oct. 1's celebrations, at least on mainland China. The last year, however, has been a particularly challenging one for the 66-year-old leader. The trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump has not just hurt China economically, but thrown into question the continuation of the entire model of globalization to which Beijing has tied its fortunes for 30 years.

Unrest in Hong Kong shows no signs of going away. It is not just an embarrassment to Chinese rule but has also dramatically shifted dynamics on Taiwan, which Beijing unapologetically wishes back under its control by the hundredth anniversary of China's communist takeover in 2049.