Pablo A. Rodriguez-Merino, from the Department of Politics and International Studies and the Institute of Advanced Study, comments on the latest news that Chinese president Xi Jinping has expressed confidence in Carrie Lam, in her position as Hong Kong's chief executive:
"I think that Xi's decision to publicly show support and confidence in Carrie Lam suggests once again that the Chinese government is avoiding measures that may result in instability or further alienate protesters in Hong Kong, let alone a Tiananmen-style military intervention, with which some media and analysts came to speculate at some point during the crisis.
"A direct appointment made from Beijing to replace Lam would have put the focus on one of the core grievances of the protesters, which is the lack of ‘real’ democracy in Hong Kong, understood as one in which candidates do not require pre-approval from the Chinese government.
"Still, maintaining her in charge indicates a lack of public accountability in Hong Kong politics, considering Lam’s poor management of the crisis, epitomised by the stagnation of the protests and their evolution into a full-blown pro-democracy opposition movement.
"I find that maintaining the Chief Executive also suggests the CPC’s preference for a ‘gradual’ approach in Hong Kong that preserves the status quo and buys time while Beijing develops other means of economic or political intervention to neutralise the opposition in the medium and long term. These could come in the form of new law enforcement or education measures, as recently agreed in the CPC’s top leadership plenary meeting."
5 November 2019
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