Too little, too late was the reaction of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong to the announcement last week that the government of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) would permanently withdraw proposed legislation to facilitate the extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland.

They are right — to a point. Withdrawing the bill is the right move, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam should do more. In particular, she should launch an independent investigation of police behavior and provide amnesty to those who were arrested.

Protestors must also recognize the grim reality of the situation and its impact on their final demand, however. The Beijing government, which ultimately calls the shots in Hong Kong, will not allow reforms that effectively fully democratize Hong Kong's elections — at least not as a result of popular protest. Failure to recognize that simple fact means that this entire process will end badly.