Welcome to the Daily. Today, our five handpicked stories start with an extraordinarily beautiful portrait of the grace of El Paso. We also pull back the curtain on the U.S.-China economic battle, look at how President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy is changing the Middle East, examine why independent bookstores endure, and tell the story of one family’s amazing dedication to save a rare horse breed.
But first a look at why the world should be watching Hong Kong.
These days, it would seem, authoritarianism is on the march. From Russia to the Philippines to Saudi Arabia, strongmen seem to be calling the shots. Elsewhere, strains of populism have some worried that democratic norms are under threat or already in tatters.
But in Hong Kong, protesters have put the strongest of strongmen – Chinese President Xi Jinping – in a bind. The demonstrators are increasingly worried that the Hong Kong they love is vanishing. The rights and liberties that have made the city a unique and flourishing hub of culture and global trade seem to be hanging in the balance. So The Wall Street Journal notes that protesters are becoming more desperate and radical in their determination to fight for their way of life.
It is a reminder that freedoms, once spread, are hard to take away. To be sure, mainland China holds the upper hand. But Hong Kong – and Taiwan – show that freedom and justice put down tenacious roots. For decades after World War II, the world took flawed but unprecedented steps to spread and protect freedoms across the globe. Hong Kong shows that such seeds can be transformative.