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Hong Kong protests Ivan Abreu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

China’s Hong Kong Gamble

By ordering China’s rubber-stamp parliament to draft a strict new security law for Hong Kong, President Xi Jinping’s regime has struck its heaviest blow yet against the city, effectively overturning the “one country, two systems” principle that has prevailed since the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. But will China pay a price for its aggressive gambit?

In this Big Picture, Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, argues that the West has a vital stake in the ongoing struggle in the city, and that liberal democracies must stand up for themselves if governance based on the rule of law is to survive. Minxin Pei of Claremont McKenna College warns that the worst is yet to come, and predicts that Chinese leaders’ efforts to enforce full political control over the city will meet fierce local resistance and make other countries less hesitant to join a US-led anti-China coalition.

Likewise, Brahma Chellaney of the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research believes that Xi’s bullying tactics in Hong Kong and elsewhere have damaged and isolated China’s communist regime and are undermining the country’s long-term interests. After all, says Ian Buruma, China will have to offer more than money and intimidation to be regarded as a credible leader of a rules-based international order.

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