For five months, Hong Kong has seen waves of massive protests and violence in the streets. And for five months, the local authorities, with the backing of Beijing, have responded in increasingly draconian ways that have succeeded mostly in inflaming public sentiment. Some commentators in the United States have even raised the prospect of another Tiananmen Square, note analysts Michael C. Davis* and Victoria Tin-Bor Hui.
Yet a military intervention is unlikely, they write for Foreign Affairs:
Beijing has greatly benefited from Hong Kong’s ostensible autonomy, enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the 1990 Hong Kong Basic Law, which established the formula of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong.” This arrangement has allowed the city to become the leading financial center of Asia and an important link between the Chinese and global economies. Beijing has a strong incentive to preserve the façade of autonomy in Hong Kong.