Hong Kong riot police stand guard outside a police station on Oct. 7. Protesters in Hong Kong have issued five major demands. Their demand for universal suffrage is, at its core, a call for self-determination and is one that Beijing will not tolerate.
Whatever the outcome of the current protests, Hong Kong will not return to "normal." No political compromise will satisfy both sides. At its core, the protest movement in Hong Kong is about self-determination: the right of Hong Kong to choose its own laws and leadership -- and thus its own path. This view is anathema to Beijing's core interest in national unity and eventual complete unification. Hong Kong's unique status will either continue to erode, removing once and for all the fiction of "one country, two systems," or Hong Kong will break politically from the mainland, fracturing China's 70-year drive to reconstitute the nation. The odds are stacked against that second outcome....
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