But Beijing remains undaunted. It says China “will not waver in the face of criticism” and holds foreign “black hands” responsible for dissent. For central authorities, Hong Kong will remain an important gateway to the greater Chinese economy and a useful link to foreign finance. Over time, however, Beijing expects Hong Kong to lose much of its separate identity as it melds seamlessly into joint economic development of the greater Pearl River Delta. Many Hong Kong people might then lament a lost sense of separateness but Beijing would find that—if not the real thing—excellent enough.
Robert Keatley is a former editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal and the South China Morning Post, both of Hong Kong.