The Chinese phrase qiu hou suan zhang is literally translated as “to balance the books after the autumn harvest”. But in common parlance it means “to take revenge when the time is ripe”. China’s leaders use the aphorism to discuss the problem of Hong Kong.

With peaceful and violent protests still escalating, and the police and government struggling to control the situation, Chinese officials have mostly struck a conciliatory tone until now. But even if the demonstrations fizzle out immediately and the former British colony returns to normality, Beijing will settle its scores and “Asia’s world city” will never be the same again.

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