Why is there chaos in Hong Kong?

Beijing / Hong Kong (dpa) - Military parade in Beijing, riots in Hong Kong. The contradiction on the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China could hardly have been more blatant.

But the two are closely related: with the demonstration of military strength, China's head of state and party leader Xi Jinping is also sending a warning to the Hong Kong democracy movement not to go too far. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, the demonstrators in the Chinese special administrative region of the communist leadership spoil the birthday party in Beijing.

Activists block streets, throw incendiary devices, fight street battles with police forces who respond with tear gas and water cannons. There is chaos on the streets of the former British Crown Colony. Police fire warning shots - a protester is hit and injured. "Power comes from the barrel of the gun," said the revolutionary Mao Tsetung, who on October 1, 1949, declared the establishment of the People's Republic.

Xi Jinping builds on his legacy. He has also sent troops to Hong Kong and the border. "Comrades, how are you?" The commander-in-chief in the black Mao suit in the "Rote Fahne" limousine calls into four large microphones while he is driving through the formations. "Comrades, it is not easy for you!", He knows how to appreciate the efforts with a typical saying. "Serve the people!" Echoes back from the throats of thousands of soldiers.

But something is new: unlike his direct predecessors, the soldiers do not call him "F├╝hrer" (Shouzhang), but "Chairman" (Zhuxi), just like "the great Chairman" Mao Tsetung once did. They underline the omnipotence of today's party leader, who after a constitutional amendment can remain in office until the end of his life.

The Hong Kong uprising for more democracy and freedoms and the US trade war with China are the two biggest crises that Xi Jinping has faced since he took office seven years ago. The rattling of the saber, with the largest arms show in the history of the People's Republic to date, is also aimed at the great rival on the other side of the Pacific.

The weapon systems are impressive: a new, nuclear-armed ICBM that can reach the United States in half an hour. A hypersonic glider that can evade American air defense. A new long-range bomber that, when fueled in the air, can travel further into the Pacific than before.

The parade demonstrates the modernization of the People's Liberation Army, which seeks to drive back US military influence in the Pacific. "China is building robust, lethal armed forces with capabilities that can expand in the air, sea and intelligence that enable China to impose its will on the region," warns the US Military Intelligence Service (DIA). It is precisely this claim to great power that Xi Jinping underlines with the arms show, which is also intended to strengthen the people's national pride.

But the critical politics professor Wu Qiang is not convinced. He sees a "false sense of national pride". "China has now become a great power. But the people don't really have freedom and democracy. So China isn't really a great power." China was poor 70 years ago. Since then there has been economic progress, but not much has changed politically.

Propaganda tries to argue that the Communist Party lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, which is also often repeated abroad. But had it not been for the chaos and long resistance in the party to market economy methods, the Chinese would have shaken off poverty decades earlier.

It is estimated that between 35 and 80 million Chinese fell victim to Mao Tsetung's wrong turns. Nevertheless, the "great helmsman" is still venerated today, Xi Jinping falls back on his old methods of ideological control.

The attempt backfired in Hong Kong. Also because the gap between rich and poor is widening. But social inequality is also growing in China - this is how the billionaire population is heading towards economically uncertain times.

Whenever the party leadership sees its claim to power threatened, it resort to surveillance and repression, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer from the Berlin China Institute Merics. "Young people in Hong Kong don't want to be forced to have everything. They want to have a say and have a say when it comes to their future, their earnings, their dates. And that's why they have been taking to the streets for months."