HK protests set to stress-test China’s priorities

There was a cold rationale behind China’s top leaders authorising its military to violently crush pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square on July 4, 1989 no cost was too high to maintain control.

Hundreds were killed, and the international backlash was so severe that China’s rulers have attempted to internally suppress all mention of the massacre ever since. Instead, they prioritised improving the country’s economy to justify their vice-hold on power and stifle dissent.

It has been a very successful strategy. The World Bank notes that China’s export-and-investment-fuelled industrialisation drive, which began in 1978, has raised over 850 million Chinese people out of poverty. It’s led…

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