The ongoing maelstrom in Hong Kong, on the surface at least, appears to put Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, into a bit of a pickle. There appears to be no letup to the protests, and yet, even a strongman like him, has no choice but to watch from a distance and grind his teeth. His options appear stark.
If he gives in to the demands of the protesters by withdrawing the controversial extradition bill, it would be viewed as a major defeat, his first. It would also only encourage the protesters, who, in the knowledge that their tactics have been effective, would try for more concessions, such as universal suffrage. Even worse, giving in would encourage subversive groups on the mainland, who would immediately note the defeat and perhaps try similar tactics there.