The Hong Kong legislature has rejected a plan thatwould have let citizens choose the city's leader. Thevote on Thursday came after months of debate andlarge protests.
Under the rejected plan, the city's 5 million voterswould have been able to vote for the city's chiefexecutive beginning in 2017. But they would be ableto choose only from a list of two or three candidatesapproved by a 1,200-member committee controlledby mainland China.
Hours after the vote, the Chinese state news service released a statement. It said the electoralreform plan approved by China's national legislature last August would stay in effect. Thatplan gives the committee the power to choose the city's leader.
Some Hong Kong legislators called the rejected plan "fake democracy."
About 1,000 protestors went to government offices this week during the legislative debate.The group included both supporters and opponents of the plan.
Many legislators were not present for the vote, which happened in the afternoon earlier thanexpected. At least two-thirds of the 70 legislators would have had to support the plan in orderfor it to take effect. But 28 of them rejected it. Eight voted in support and one decided not tovote. Moments before the vote, a group of pro-government legislators left the legislativechamber.
Emily Lau leads the city's Democratic Party.
"Well the whole thing was quite farcical because everybody knew the package would be voteddown, but so many of the pro-establishment legislators went out, and so it is really a veryfarcical end to this very sorry saga."
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was disappointed by the vote.
Lu Kang said the Chinese government wants the chief executive of Hong Kong to be elected bypopular vote. He said China wants to promote Hong Kong's democratic development andpermit people to choose the chief executive. He said China did not want the Hong Konglegislature to reject the reform plan.
The vote on Thursday followed months of protests. Last fall, tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators blocked the streets of Hong Kong. They demanded the right tochoose the city's leader through direct election. They rejected the Chinese plan to permitvoters to choose the city's leader only from an approved list.
Joseph Cheung is a professor of the City University of Hong Kong. He says the legislators whorejected the electoral reform plan were following the wishes of the people.
"So the pro-democracy legislators actually feel obliged to respond to this demand, becausethese people are their very foundation of their voters' support."