The clamping down on the rights of those living in China’s periphery is not unprecedented, but the resurgence of these policies may make tensions even more intractable, instead of leading to long-lasting stability.
Tensions in Asia are high, not only because of concerns about the impact of Covid-19. The China-India border dispute, Beijing’s militarisation in the South China Sea and the enactment of Hong Kong’s national security law all raise fears of conflict.
Both Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are likely to deflect attention from the challenges at home by taking a hard line on the other’s country. With an election looming, Trump must take Xi to task on Hong Kong even though this is only likely to steel Xi’s resolve.