THE “China dream” of the president, Xi Jinping, is of a rejuvenated, rich and strong country that will once again enjoy the respect and fealty in Asia commanded by the empires of old. That last part is not happening: from a recalcitrant young despot, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, on its north-eastern border, to those ungrateful Vietnamese Communists to the south, flirting with America, insolent insubordination abounds. And perhaps most alarming of all, the people of “inalienable” territories wrested from the motherland by predatory imperialists—Hong Kong and Taiwan—show no enthusiasm at all for a return to its bosom.
Events in recent weeks have highlighted China’s difficulties in both places. In Hong Kong a visiting senior official from Beijing, Zhang Dejiang, had to scurry around under high security to avoid meeting protesters. Paving stones were glued down in case they became projectiles. And in Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, at her swearing-in on May 20th, rejected months of intense Chinese pressure to pay lip service to the notion that there is “one China”.