Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong before the United Kingdom ceded control of the island to China in 1997, claimed that China's renewed focus on cracking down on Hong Kong protesters is because President Xi Jinping is "nervous" about the future of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to Reuters, Patten claimed President Xi has felt insecure about the position of the communist party due to both the international outrage over the Middle Kingdom's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the city of Wuhan, as well as criticism in his own nation about the economic impact of the country's trade war with the United States.
"One reason Xi Jinping is whipping up all this nationalist feeling about Hong Kong, about Taiwan and about other issues, is that he is more nervous than any official would allow about the position of the Communist Party in China," Patten claimed.
Patten added that it was a result of this insecurity that President Xi enacted sweeping new restrictions to Hong Kong, which many experts have claimed will end the island's autonomy promised under the "one nation, two systems" agreement enacted when Hong Kong was returned to China.
Moreover, Patten warned President Xi is so focused on strengthing his -- and the CCP's -- standing, that he is willing to risk starting a "Cold War" with the West.
"We have long since passed the stage where, without wanting another Cold War, we have to react to the fact Xi seems to want one himself," Patten said.
China's growing hold on Hong Kong has not gone unnoticed, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently suggesting that the island could lose its special trading position with the United States following its loss of autonomy, as reported by CNN.
Patten has warned that this could have severe repercussions for both China and Hong Kong.
"What does it mean? It means serious question marks not just about Hong Kong's future as a free society but also about Hong Kong's ability to continue as probably the premier international financial hub in Asia," Patten said.
He added that he believed many would try to flee the island, not unlike the outpouring of ex-pats that first found refuge in Hong Kong in the 1950s following the communist victory in China.
Hong Kong is not the only focus of China's renewed nationalism. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Himalayan border with India has been swarmed with both Chinese and Indian troops, following rising tensions between the two nations.