Since he took power seven years ago, President Xi Jinping has faced a growing din of foreign condemnation over his government’s human rights record, a trade war that has sapped China’s strength and now, for a second time, mass protests in the streets of Hong Kong.
Yet again and again, instead of moving toward compromise or change, Mr. Xi and his subordinates have made hard-line decisions that have compounded and complicated pressures on the ruling Communist Party. They have stood by those decisions even after they have blown up into unexpected crises, like this week’s tumultuous demonstrations in Hong Kong against a plan to allow extraditions to mainland China.
“Xi Jinping has been a very good student of Machiavelli — it’s better to be feared than to be loved,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University and the author of “China Tomorrow: Democracy or Dictatorship?”
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