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My view is more nuanced; I don't think that it is all simply about student protests and student issues. There has been a lot going on below the surface, which have now

come to the fore.

Foremost among this are that young people in HK do not have a clear path to enjoying a better life than the previous generation. They are having to adjust to living in a world of reduced expectations, and they don't like what they see. Hong Kong now has one of the largest wealth gaps (Gini coefficient) in the world. If people could see how they could get past this wealth gap, and felt that the system gave them this opportunity, they would be willing to live by the rules, but if they do not see a way out, and see the system as being inherently unfair, then protests happen.

This is what is happening now.

The dispute with Beijing and the HK government over the next Chief Executive elections in 2017 just gives a convenient target for their public anger. Both Beijing and the HK government have been clumsy in how they have handled this issue.

This growing wealth gap is not unique to HK; it is happening all over the world. It is just that through their own ineptitude, Beijing has drawn a clear target for angry people in Hong Kong. This same issue is very real in the US and Europe, but there are no clear targets for focused anger the way there is in Hong Kong today.

In the west, many people feel that this is an expression of peoples' desire for freedom and human rights. In the early stages of a revolution, this is often the case. But if we look at revolutions, they often get hijacked for other purposes; the complete failure of the Arab Spring in Libya and Syria is a good example.

While I understand the reasons for the anger, I don't see how this will lead to lasting change. We will just have to wait and see how things play out on the ground.

I don't see how Beijing will accommodate the wishes of the Hong Kong people peacefully because Beijing normally obsesses over control when it comes to public displays of angry people in large numbers. If things get too hairy, I suspect that they will send in the troops to maintain order, and blame what happened in Hong Kong on outside troublemakers who have infiltrated Hong Kong society. Beijing will directly install its own government to rule HK. This will, of course, mean the end of all the agreements which led up to the handover of HK in 1997, including the Basic Law.

Bye bye, one country, two systems!

There will be a large economic hit to China, but China faced the same situation 25 years ago.

Further reading:
Paul Denlinger's answer to What has Hong Kong done wrong in the past decade?

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