I’m certainly no China apologist or sympathizer but I believe it is appropriate to recognize the improvement in their behavior over these past decades. The China of not too long ago thought little about killing off their own people. In 1960 they starved and slaughtered many millions who expressed no ill will. In 1989 they killed many thousands who resisted peacefully. Now in 2019 they haven’t killed the people marching in the streets rioting for change.
I believe there are two reasons for this. First, China has gotten better at messaging (propaganda). They’ve been pointing to the riots as proof of foreign interference to bolster domestic support for a stronger China. Everyone does that. United States after 9/11, Iran against the Great Satan, Israel against the Arab states. It doesn’t matter if the threat is real, exaggerated or imagined. It’s an effective boogeyman.
The second reason is practical. Dead people on TV risk other countries using that as an excuse to isolate China and slow their growth. Chinese tanks rolling into Hong Kong and crushing bodies into the streets won’t win the hearts and wallets of foreign businesses and foreign consumers. Isolation and containment of China would certainly increase. That would cause growth to stall or reverse which would threaten the regime.
Whatever the reason, it’s good that China is acting in a more civilized way.