With Hong Kong protest leaders calling their supporters out onto the streets again, there's good reason to doubt whether talks with the government that were expected today will ever take place, let alone whether they could accomplish anything. Protesters' demands for full democracy remain irreconcilable with Beijing's decree that only China loyalists be allowed to stand for the city's top office. Between those positions, however, lie solutions that could give Hong Kongers what they deserve: a freer choice of leaders. It would be foolish not to explore them, and soon.
Both sides have reason to seek common ground. Even if crowds pick up again over the weekend, protests will be hard to sustain in the face of rising local resentment. Meanwhile, what President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders want and need most in Hong Kong is stability. Instead, they now confront a young, frustrated and politicized populace that has developed impressive organizational and media skills -- not to mention international sympathy.