The protestors want their liberties preserved, the territory’s autonomy respected, and justice for those the security services have detained, brutalized or murdered. Contrary to Communist propaganda, this citizens’ uprising is no foreign conspiracy. If anything, the world’s leading democratic nations have been slow to respond. Only one capital is responsible for what is unfolding in Hong Kong: Beijing. The demonstrators are responding to its efforts to exert ever more influence and control over what is supposed to be an autonomous region.

It is crucial to recognize that the dynamics that led to this crisis didn’t begin in Hong Kong and won’t end there. The turmoil is the result of Beijing’s systematic ratcheting up of its domestic oppression and its pursuit of hegemony abroad.

Years ago, it was reasonable to think that China’s rapid development and integration into the global economy might lead it to embrace prevailing international rules, that success would give Beijing a stake in the systems that uphold peace and prosperity. Now it is clear the Communist Party wants to write its own rules and impose them on others.

For evidence of China’s hunger for power, consider the fate of its other supposedly autonomous regions.