The situation in Hong Kong is a nightmare for Xi Jinping. China’s president has made the restoration of his country’s power and dignity the central theme of his presidency. But part of China’s sovereign territory has descended into violent anarchy.

Universities have turned into battlegrounds. Protesters are hurling Molotov cocktails at the police, but they appear to retain a strong measure of support from the population. Chinese troops have appeared on the streets — but so far only to help clear the roads. Deploying them against the demonstrators could plunge Hong Kong into a long-term insurrection, similar to Belfast in the 1970s or Algiers in the 1950s.

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