HONG KONG (DPA) — Plans for election reform that triggered the worst unrest in years in Hong Kong were voted down Thursday, in a move criticized by Beijing.
Just 36 members of Hong Kong's 70-member Legislative Council voted, with eight in favour of the reform package and 28 against, according to reports.
"I think by now Beijing should understand how firm many Hong Kong people are in wanting to have a democratic system compatible with certain basic standards," Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho told dpa.
The Beijing-backed reforms were also supported by the Hong Kong government, and needed at least a two-thirds majority to be approved by the council.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whose post is at the centre of the political wrangling, said that "he, the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong people are very disappointed about the result".
About 30 pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the Legislative Council chamber less than a minute before the vote, South China Morning Post reported.
The lawmakers later told a press conference they were waiting for one more lawmaker to arrive before casting their votes, but there was a "miscommunication" and they missed the vote.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing the result was something the government "does not wish to see," without answering further questions.
The reform would have allowed the direct election of the city's next chief executive, but from a list of candidates pre-approved by Beijing. The pan-democrats want publicly nominated candidates.
Blocking it leaves in place the current system, where a 1,200-person committee of Hong Kong's economic and political elites selects the next chief executive, rather than the estimated 5 million eligible voters in the city.
The vote came after two days of debate.
Lawmakers opposing the changes said they hope to engage in talks with the Beijing government to restart the election reform process.
Last year, tens of thousands of demonstrators occupied streets outside the legislative complex for nearly three months to protest the proposed reforms.
(Reporting by Joanna Chiu)