[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.