BEIJING - China’s central government has dismissed Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters as clowns and criminals while bemoaning growing violence surrounding the monthslong demonstrations.
That’s partly out of concern that protesters’ demands for expanded democracy could inspire like-minded officials and intellectuals on the mainland.
Yet, Beijing shows no signs of preparing for a major crackdown, content instead to ignore the protests in the hopes that frustration will lead to further violence that will eventually turn the territory’s silent majority against the movement, according to experts.
“Hong Kong poses a serious problem for the Chinese government. It can’t allow the protesters to challenge its authority or deface symbols of its authority unpunished but it also does not want to attempt a military crackdown,” said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
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