The Straits Times says

Tough year for Xi in Greater China

As the new year dawns, Chinese President Xi Jinping has his work cut out for him in the Greater China region. Hong Kong's unrest shows no sign of going away and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party looks set to win a second term at next week's presidential election, guaranteeing that cross-strait ties will remain difficult for Beijing. In an acknowledgement of the turmoil in Hong Kong, he noted in his New Year's Eve speech that without a harmonious and stable environment, "how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?" At the same time, he affirmed the "one country, two systems" model under which Hong Kong and Macau are governed with a high degree of autonomy by a local administration. He also commended Macau for its prosperity and stability, saying that its success indicated that the "one country, two systems" principle was "fully applicable, achievable and popular".

Yet, events in Hong Kong - clashes between protesters and police on New Year's Eve and a 1.03 million-person march on New Year's Day - showed that things were more complex than that. Across the Taiwan Strait on New Year's Day, Ms Tsai rejected the "one country, two systems" model for reunification which Mr Xi had proposed a year before. In doing so, she said that the people of Hong Kong had shown that the system was absolutely not viable. She added that governmental abuse of power in the special administrative region had eroded people's trust in the system. Indeed, Hong Kongers over the past seven months have been taking to the streets to protest against what they see as an erosion of their civil liberties and political freedoms and to demand greater democracy.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Tough year for Xi in Greater China'. Print Edition | Subscribe