Why Xi won’t be sending the PLA to quell Hong Kong protests

The eleven-week-long protest movement in Hong Kong has reached a critical phase. Earlier this week, thousands of protesters converged on the city’s airport, paralysing operations and disrupting nearly 1,000 flights. The airport was finally cleared on Thursday after clashes between riot police and the protesters. The scenes of chaos played out as the top leadership of the Communist Party of China met for its annual conclave at the beachside town of Beidaihe.

The situation in Hong Kong undoubtedly must have been on top of the agenda. The protests, which initially focussed on an extradition bill put forward by the city’s government, have now evolved into a larger battle for autonomy from Beijing’s tightening grip. In the process, peaceful demonstrations have given way to anger and violence.

These turns of events indicate an increasing sense of unease that Beijing is now seriously contemplating the use of force. This, of course, remains a possibility. The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region empowers local authorities to request Beijing for such assistance. The PLA, in fact, already has troops stationed at a garrison in Hong Kong. However, given the current scenario, it is highly unlikely that Xi will deploy the armed forces to quell the protests.

Read the full article published in The Hindu