[Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam] is caught in an impossible position [of having to uphold Beijing's interests and maintain Hong Kong's autonomy]. One consequence of that, for example, is that she may calculate that goals like preserving the rule of law and preserving civil and political rights, from attrition by Beijing, is best done quietly. If she does this in a public way that makes it very clear to everybody that she's making demands, then Beijing is going to respond in the worst possible way.
[Beijing] doesn't understand the social and political dynamics of advanced economies like Hong Kong and Taiwan. [It] particularly doesn't understand the priorities of young people. Most of all, it does not understand how its own policies are creating the problems it finds troubling.
The [political reform] proposal that ultimately went to [Hong Kong's] Legco (the Legislative Council) in April 2015 was better than people realised, and maybe reviving it with modest changes would elicit enough support from the democratic camp. Unless politics is restored to institutional channels it will stay in the street.
“Hong Kong is at a different point in its political and social development (compared with mainland China) and that allows a different policy position. China, in the Basic Law, granted Hong Kong people rights that are present in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it granted the rule of law through an independent judiciary. All of those are precious assets and the United States should oppose any backsliding from what Hong Kong already has.”
“Experimenting with elections in Hong Kong and getting the bugs out of the system could be very useful in preparing (mainland) China for the day, which I hope will come, where it picks more leaders by genuine competitive elections."
"If, somehow, Beijing in the next 30 years were to decide that the localists are right, and that Hong Kong people should at some point before 2047 be allowed to have an exercise of self-determination, and if they decided to set up a separate country, then the United States is not going to object to that. [But Washington] accepted as a reality, and still accepts as a reality, that Hong Kong is part of China.”