Pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong are girding for what some predict will be a tense final showdown with the Chinese government over whether Beijing will permit genuine democracy to take root in the former British colony.
But in Washington, where the political quarrels in a wealthy Asian financial center understandably capture less attention than marauding militants in Iraq or Russian artillery units in Ukraine, there has been little reaction to the clash in Hong Kong over a new voting law.
That should change this weekend, when Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, is scheduled to make her first visit to Beijing since taking the job 15 months ago. Administration officials say Ms. Rice will raise American concerns about the standoff in Hong Kong when she meets with Chinese leaders.
It will be just one topic on a crowded agenda that includes nuclear talks with Iran, tensions after a Chinese fighter jet buzzed an American surveillance plane last month, and President Vladimir V. Putin’s incursions into Ukraine, which American officials worry are being watched with a bit too much admiration by President Xi Jinping.
“It’s a relationship that has been somewhat frazzled and rocky over the last six months,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, a former senior adviser on China in the National Security Council. “Therefore, having White House involvement in the relationship helps steady it.”
For Ms. Rice, who prides herself on her blunt advocacy of human rights, the throngs of protesters in Hong Kong are difficult to ignore. While she does not want the topic to swamp her visit, a senior official said she would remind the Chinese that Hong Kong had thrived with Western-style civil liberties since Britain returned it to China in 1997.