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BEIJING — China’s leader, Xi Jinping, warned a gathering of senior Communist Party officials in January that the country faced a raft of urgent economic and political risks, and told them to be on guard especially for “indolence, incompetence and becoming divorced from the public.”
Now, after months of political tumult in Hong Kong, the warning seems prescient. Only it is Mr. Xi himself and his government facing criticism that they are mishandling China’s biggest political crisis in years, one that he did not mention in his catalog of looming risks at the start of the year.
And although few in Beijing would dare blame Mr. Xi openly for the government’s handling of the turmoil, there is quiet grumbling that his imperious style and authoritarian concentration of power contributed to the government’s misreading of the scope of discontent in Hong Kong, which is only growing.