Before Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor went on her trip to Beijing, she declared the resumption of cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland to be the “most important” issue. She came back empty-handed . That was a silly mistake. Without knowing the mainland’s position ahead of time, she declared it a main goal of her mission, thereby setting herself up for failure. How many times do pundits have to repeat this in exasperation: the woman is no politician! Most likely, it was Guangdong authorities that didn’t want to open the border yet, and she was told that after meeting the secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Committee and the governor of Guangdong province. But some critics have gone on to say Beijing has lost confidence in her and cast doubt on her ability to secure significant initiatives to support Hong Kong in her policy address to be delivered later this month. Well, by her own repeat admissions, it’s not clear she has much confidence in herself as the city’s leader, so why should her bosses have any in her? It goes without saying. Beijing’s policy is not about Lam, but the city. The Hong Kong government has long needed mainland support to prop it up, having never been able to stand on its own. That was so for the Tung Chee-hwa administration after the Asian financial crisis and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak, for his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen after the global financial collapse, and for Leung Chun-ying after the 2014 anti-government mass protests. Having delivered a big stick with the national security law and delaying the Legislative Council election by a year , Beijing needs to offer some carrots to Hong Kong. Lam postponed her annual policy address days before its scheduled delivery last month, mainly because it clashed with President Xi Jinping’s visit to Shenzhen . But it was delayed so long to make time for Lam to pay her visit to Beijing and Guangdong like a supplicant for the mainland’s beneficence. Most likely, her policy address, to be delivered on November 25, will include cross-border niceties for Hong Kong people to improve livelihoods and living standards. These may include making it easier to live and buy homes on the mainland, work across the border and pay less taxes, and perhaps incentives and subsidies for retirement, education and medical services on the mainland. More than anything else, such sweeteners will signal Hong Kong’s ties are to the mainland, and to nowhere else.