(From Reuters)

China’s parliament said on Thursday that its decision on Hong Kong electoral reforms issued last year will remain in force despite Hong Kong’s legislature vetoing a China-vetted electoral reform package, state news agency Xinhua said.

Xinhua did not give more details.

Earlier, Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday vetoed a China-vetted electoral reform package that had been criticized by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists as flawed and undemocratic.

Hundreds of Beijing supporters had converged outside government buildings as city legislators voted on the Beijing-backed electoral package that aimed to define the Chinese-controlled city’s democratic future.

The vote happened earlier than expected, with only 37 of the legislature’s 70 legislators present. Of these, 28 lawmakers voted against the blueprint and 8 voted in favor, while one did not cast their vote.

Pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Thursday — Reuters
 Moments before the ballot, a large number of pro-establishment and pro-Beijing lawmakers  suddenly walked out of the chamber.

The no vote had been expected and will likely appease some pro-democracy activists who had demanded a veto of what they call a “fake” democratic model for how Hong Kong chooses its next leader in 2017.

“This veto has helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing…that we want a genuine choice, a real election,” said pan-democratic law maker Alan Leong.”This is not the end of the democratic movement,” he said. “This is a new beginning.”

There have been fears that a veto would lead to fresh unrest on Hong Kong streets between pro-democracy activists and Beijing supporters.

Mainland Chinese media warned that a veto of the proposal could pose a threat to the financial center.

Weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong late last year posed one of the biggest challenge in years for China’s ruling Communist Party.

The reform proposal, laid out by the central government in Beijing last August and supported by Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leadership, would have allowed a direct vote for the city’s next leader but with only pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates on the ballot.

Opponents want a genuinely democratic election in line with Beijing’s promise of universal suffrage made when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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