Many people who support their aspirations are advising them to retreat. The reasons may vary: the danger of violent crackdown, antagonising other citizens and losing support popular, futility of asking Beijing to change its mind, exploitation by sinister foreign powers, …
It seems that some of the students feel that they cannot retreat unless the government makes at least some significant concessions. But the government is not making any, and actually appears to be playing some kind of game with them. Hence the standoff.
Many people are sympathetic to the students. Yet they feel that what the students demand - for Beijing to overturn its earlier decision and to allow citizen nominations - is impossible, at least for now.
The students have already shown the world their desire for democracy, their determination and ability to mobilise. They cannot won the ultimate struggle for democracy here and now. The struggle for democracy is a long one. It will not be won in one day, one year, our lifetime, and even many lifetimes. But they have made a giant step forward. Hong Kong, and even China, are indebted to them.
But many students do not feel that way. They are young and for many of them, this is their very first attempt to realise their dream. For them, there is no past and no future; the only reality is now. They feel that if they do not get a significant concession from the government now, they will have lost everything.
That’s unfortunate. For history is real, and takes a long time.