Legislators in Hong Kong rejected China’ plan to hand-pick the slate of candidates for the territory’s next leader, but Beijing quickly announced that the vote would change nothing because it didn’t reflect the will of the people.
Moments before the vote, pro-Beijing lawmakers walked out of the legislative chamber.
“Such a result is a departure from the mainstream public opinion of Hong Kong,” a spokesman for the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. “It is also not what the central government likes to see.”
“The central government sincerely hopes the various sectors of Hong Kong could unite under the leadership of the chief executive and the SAR government, and focus on developing the economy, improving people’s livelihoods, maintaining social harmony and maintaining Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability,” the spokesman added, according to The South China Morning Post.
A statement from the council reads: “Although the universal suffrage motion was not passed … the direction towards universal suffrage and the legal principles laid down in the decision of the … Standing Committee, must continue to be upheld in future efforts to pursue universal suffrage,” it read.
The electoral reform package would have allowed a direct vote for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017, but Beijing has insisted that it alone gets to control the nominating process.
In August, anger boiled over into the streets of Hong Kong over what many view as Beijing reneging on a promise it made when Britain handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997 to have free and fair elections for the territory’s leader, known as the chief executive, beginning in 2017.
As we reported over the weekend, protesters gathered in Hong Kong to push the legislature to reject Beijing’s plan. However, the numbers for those demonstrations were small compared to the tens of thousands who filled the streets last year.