The leadership in Beijing sees Hong Kong as a part of China that must be joined with the motherland both politically and legally -- slowly, for economic reasons, but surely. The Communist Party knows that on the long-term, it holds the best cards. At the beginning of this year, the government announced its plan for the "Greater Bay Area," which envisions integrating 11 cities in the Pearl River Delta into a single metropolitan region. If it comes to pass, Hong Kong will be just another Chinese city among many others -- a small part of a much larger metropolitan region.
Many in Hong Kong are opposed to that vision. But there is nothing to indicate that the Chinese leadership might meet the demands of the Hong Kong opposition. Doing so would contradict the Communist Party's claim to power as well as that of its leader, Xi Jinping, who has been named president for life. It would also establish a precedent with domestic political implications that Beijing could never accept. In early October, the party will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, a patriotic demonstration of power that, from Beijing's perspective, would be difficult to square with concessions made to a democratically minded citizens' movement.