On Oct. 1, the Chinese Communist Party threw itself a celebratory propaganda jubilee trumpeting the 70th anniversary Mao Zedong's civil war victory and his clique's seizure of power on the mainland.
The centerpiece of the CCP National Day self-glorification festival was a grandiose parade featuring high-stepping People's Liberation Army troops; armored vehicles; an intercontinental ballistic missile on a mobile launcher; a curious float with a giant winged robot; cheery performers wearing blissful smiles and pastel attire; and a convoy of cult-of-personality floats bearing mega-portraits of Mao and Chinese President Xi Jingping.
Xi insistently associates himself with Mao. Xi's visage, Mao's visage -- for Xi, it's a domestic mega-propaganda must.
The parade passed through Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Right -- that Tiananmen Square, the site of the June 4, 1989, massacre of pro-democracy Chinese citizens by the PLA. The CCP supreme leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, gave the order to attack.
For 30 years, the CCP regime banned any discussion of the slaughter and, in fact, attempted to erase the event from history. That changed slightly this past June when the regime decided to challenge demonstrators in Hong Kong commemorating the massacre's 30th anniversary.
Hong Kong, to the distress of Xi, is the only place on the mainland where the Chinese can freely criticize the dictatorship's brutality and viciousness. The communist regime knows what happens in Hong Kong doesn't stay in Hong Kong, thanks to the internet, radio and commerce.
As for Hong Kong on Oct. 1, it was a bloody day. For the first time, Hong Kong police fired live ammunition at demonstrators and wounded a young student in the chest.
Here's the background: In June, Hong Kong citizens opposed to Beijing's attempts to bully Hong Kong and use political subterfuge to undermine its special status began demonstrating on a near-daily basis. Some demonstrations drew 2 million people. At the behest of the city's pro-Beijing officials, local police responded forcefully. That incited the populace, and demonstrators began demanding democracy. Some, fearful of Beijing's gulag, advocated autonomy,
What happened in Hong Kong didn't stay in Hong Kong. Beijing dispatched at least one division of People's Armed Police paramilitary officers to the Hong Kong border.
In Hong Kong on Oct. 2, the day after the shooting, protestors held a sit-in condemning the policeman who wounded the teenager. According to several press reports, at the sit-in, a young man wearing a mask shouted, "This means war." Hotheaded? Very likely. A CCP operative rattling sabers so Beijing can invade? It's conceivable.
However, the masked man voiced a sentiment that resonates among Hong Kong's 20- and 30-somethings. Journalists like Michael Yon report hearing discussions that, in paraphrase, go like this: "We must organize and resist Beijing now while we have free expression and rule of law. In five years, it will be too late."
Other demonstrators at the sit-in demanded a new government -- meaning a democratic government serving Hong Kong's citizens, not the Communist Party Politburo in Beijing.
Beijing's communist dictatorship fears such talk. In June 1989, Tiananmen Square demonstrators made a similar demand for the whole of China.
If framed as an information war, Hong Kong's relentless protests took the shine off the CCP's pretentious parade. America's trade war challenges Xi's claims that China's authoritarian "state capitalism" is planet Earth's economic and political future.
The Hong Kong protests definitely marred Xi's summer of personality cult cultivation. The China Media Project argued that a June 30 hagiography in the People's Daily epitomized the power-trip tripe. According to the Daily (as translated), at the June G20 summit, "Chairman Xi Jinping stood amidst these (chaotic) historical tides, not allowing clouds to cover his eyes, and from a new model of international relations ... the heights of a community of common destiny for mankind, and with clear direction for the world economy and global governance ... displayed the foresight and sagacity of Chinese leaders ..."
Xi has decided to go full Emperor Mao -- which is a future of feudal aristocrats and brutal secret police. Hong Kong says no way. The rest of the world should as well.