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Balance of Power: Xi's Awkward Visit

From Davos to Mar-a-Lago, Xi Jinping has traveled far to demonstrate China’s new swagger on the world stage. On Thursday, he finally got to Hong Kong for the first time since taking power in 2012.

Xi is visiting Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return from British rule. But he will also find a city simmering with anxiety about its future under a richer, more assertive China. Since his predecessor’s last visit, Hong Kong has seen a series of mass demonstrations as locals — especially younger ones — protest that Beijing is breaking its pledge to respect the city's unique status and encroaching on free speech and the judiciary.

So the 48-hour stopover poses at least as much of a challenge for Xi as his foreign trips to meet Donald Trump or defend globalization at the World Economic Forum. While many residents hope he’ll reassure Hong Kong of Beijing’s benevolence, he can’t appear to tolerate any effort to weaken China from within, especially ahead of a Communist Party reshuffle later this year that will determine his influence into the next decade.

For Xi — like all Chinese leaders before him — internal stability is paramount.

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Xi is greeted by well-wishers upon his arrival at Hong Kong's international airport today.
Photographer: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

Global Headlines

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And finally... Merkel might be hoping for a successful G-20, but German police are already in full damage-control mode. Local newspapers reported that an advanced detachment of three Berlin units was sent home from Hamburg in disgrace this week after a “wild orgy” involving copious amounts of alcohol, a dash of sex and an armed woman police officer dancing on a table. Still, it wasn't a total PR disaster. Nightclubs in Germany’s notoriously decadent capital saluted the errant officers by offering them free passes.

A German police officer. 
Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images Europe
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