THE EVIL RED EMPIRE – RED CHINA – VS – PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN HONG KONG

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THE EVIL RED EMPIRE – RED CHINA – VS – PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN HONG KONG

A pro democracy protester holds an umbrella, symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing vetted electoral reform package for the city's first direct chief executive election, under Chinese (L) and Hong Kong's flags outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Talks between Chinese officials and Hong Kong democrats ended in stalemate on May 31, with democrats sticking by plans to veto a Beijing proposed election blueprint in a mid June vote that could become a flashpoint for pro democracy protests. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pro democracy protester holds an umbrella, symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing vetted electoral reform package for the city’s first direct chief executive election, under Chinese (L) and Hong Kong’s flags outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Talks between Chinese officials and Hong Kong democrats ended in stalemate on May 31, with democrats sticking by plans to veto a Beijing proposed election blueprint in a mid June vote that could become a flash point for pro democracy protests. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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HONG KONG VETOES CHINA-BACKED ELECTORAL REFORM PACKAGE

Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans after voting at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.   REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans after voting at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans after voting at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.

By Donny Kwok and Yimou Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday vetoed a China-backed electoral reform package criticized by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists as undemocratic, easing for now the prospect of fresh mass protests in the financial hub.

The rejection had been expected and will likely appease some activists who had demanded a veto of what they call a “fake” democratic model for how the Chinese-controlled territory chooses its next leader in 2017.

But it was a setback for Beijing’s Communist leaders, who said in response that they remained committed to universal suffrage for Hong Kong but signaled no further concessions to the pro-democracy opposition.

Beijing had pressured and cajoled the city’s pro-democracy lawmakers to back the blueprint that would have allowed a direct vote for the city’s chief executive, but with only pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates on the ballot.

The vote came earlier than expected, with only 37 of the 70 members of the Legislative Council, known as “legco”, present. Of these, 28 legislators voted against the blueprint and eight voted in favor, while one did not cast a vote.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo carrying a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, leaves after voting at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo carrying a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, leaves after voting at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo carrying a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement.

“Today 28 legco members voted against the wishes of the majority of Hong Kong people, and denied them the democratic right to elect the chief executive in the next election,” said the city’s current pro-Beijing leader Leung Chun-ying.

“Universal suffrage for the chief executive election has now been blocked. Universal suffrage to elect all members of legco has also become uncertain. I, the government and millions of Hong Kong people are disappointed.”

A spokesman for China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress (NPC), said a few Hong Kong lawmakers remained “stubbornly opposed” to the central government.

“It fully exposes their selfish interests, hinders Hong Kong’s democratic development and damages the essence of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” the spokesman said, in comments carried by state news agency Xinhua.

“VICTORY OF DEMOCRACY”

A panel showing the voting result, after many pro-China lawmakers left in between voting, is displayed at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A panel showing the voting result, after many pro-China lawmakers left in between voting, is displayed at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A panel showing the voting result, after many pro-China lawmakers left in between voting, is displayed at Legislative Council.

In an unexpected twist, moments before the ballot a large number of pro-establishment and pro-Beijing lawmakers suddenly walked out of the chamber. The votes of one-third of legco members are sufficient to push through a veto.

Democratic lawmakers, all 27 of whom voted against the plan, marched to the front of the chamber immediately after the veto and unfurled a sign calling for genuine universal suffrage and for Hong Kongers not to give up.

Some carried the yellow umbrellas that became a symbol of the mass protest movement that brought parts of the former British colony to a standstill last year.

“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 lawmaker Alan Leong.
“This is not the end of the democratic movement,” he said. “This is a new beginning.”

Pro-China lawmakers leave Legislative Council in between voting in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-China lawmakers leave Legislative Council in between voting in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Pro-China lawmakers leave Legislative Council in between voting in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.

Outside the legislature, pro-democracy protesters broke into cheers and clapped wildly after the result.
“It’s a victory of democracy and the people,” said a 75-year-old pro-democracy protester surnamed Wong, who fought back tears.

Meanwhile, around 500 pro-Beijing supporters outside the chamber staged a minute’s silence then began chanting: “Vote them down in 2016!” calling for democratic lawmakers to be kicked out of the legislature in a citywide election next year.

Hundreds of police were in and around government headquarters with thousands more on standby, but there were no reports of trouble.
Weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong late last year posed one of the biggest challenges in years for China’s ruling Communist Party. Then, more than 100,000 people took to the streets.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan gives a thumbs-down beside Emily Lau (L), chairperson of Democr …

ONLY OPTION

The reform proposal was laid out by the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing last August and supported by Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leadership.
Opponents, however, want a genuine democratic election in line with Beijing’s promise of universal suffrage made when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Rejection of the proposal now means going back to the old system where a 1,200-member committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists selects Hong Kong’s leader.
Democratic lawmakers want on Beijing to restart the democratic reform process and put forward an improved, truly democratic electoral package.

But the NPC spokesman indicated that would not happen, saying that Beijing’s proposal was a “constitutional, lawful, fair and reasonable” decision. “It is legally binding and unshakeable,” he said.

Hong Kong lawmaker Michael Tien said that meant the rejected blueprint remained the only option. “It’s very simple. They put forward a proposal. The legislature for this term vetoed it,” he said.

“Next year is legco elections. The power is now in the hands of the voters. If the voters really want the current package they would then have to choose candidates that will support this package in the next term.”

(Additional reporting by James Pomfret, Clare Baldwin, Twinnie Siu, Saikat Chatterjee, Farah Master, Venus Wu, Viola Zhou, Shan Kao and Michelle China in HONG KONG, David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON and Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Alex Richardson)
HONG KONG Beijing

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Click For Restrictions – http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

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A pro-democracy protester holds a umbrella, the symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city's first direct chief executive election, near a Hong Kong flag (top L) outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city's next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pro-democracy protester holds a umbrella, the symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city’s first direct chief executive election, near a Hong Kong flag (top L) outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city’s next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Student leader Joshua Wong chants slogans during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city's first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city's next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Student leader Joshua Wong chants slogans during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city’s first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city’s next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pro-democracy protester holds a yellow umbrella, the symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city's first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city's next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pro-democracy protester holds a yellow umbrella, the symbol of the Occupy Central movement, during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city’s first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city’s next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pro-democracy protester carrying a yellow umbrella, symbol of the Occupy Central movement, walks past placards which read "support electoral reform", belonging to pro-China supporters, outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2015. Hong Kong lawmakers began a debate on Wednesday on a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that will define the city's democratic future and could trigger fresh protests in the Chinese-controlled city.   REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren
A pro-democracy protester carrying a yellow umbrella, symbol of the Occupy Central movement, walks past placards which read “support electoral reform”, belonging to pro-China supporters, outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2015. Hong Kong lawmakers began a debate on Wednesday on a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that will define the city’s democratic future and could trigger fresh protests in the Chinese-controlled city. REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren
A panel showing the voting result, after many pro-China lawmakers left in between voting, is displayed at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A panel showing the voting result, after many pro-China lawmakers left in between voting, is displayed at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-China lawmakers leave Legislative Council in between voting in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-China lawmakers leave Legislative Council in between voting in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Protesters carry a huge yellow banner reads " The citizens against pseudo-universal suffrage campaign " during a rally as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year.  (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Protesters carry a huge yellow banner reads ” The citizens against pseudo-universal suffrage campaign ” during a rally as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A protester raises a placard as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A protester raises a placard as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
People march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
People march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans after voting at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015.   REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans after voting at Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A pro-China supporter uses a placard which reads "support electoral reform" to cover himself from the sun during a demonstration outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2015. Hong Kong lawmakers began a debate on Wednesday on a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that will define the city's democratic future and could trigger fresh protests in the Chinese-controlled city.   REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren
A pro-China supporter uses a placard which reads “support electoral reform” to cover himself from the sun during a demonstration outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2015. Hong Kong lawmakers began a debate on Wednesday on a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that will define the city’s democratic future and could trigger fresh protests in the Chinese-controlled city. REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren
Pro-democracy protesters shout during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city's first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city's next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Pro-democracy protesters shout during a march to demand lawmakers reject a Beijing-vetted electoral reform package for the city’s first direct chief executive election in Hong Kong, China June 14, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against electoral reforms approved by Beijing to choose the city’s next leader, the beginning of several days of demonstrations before the reforms go to a vote. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo carrying a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, leaves after voting at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo carrying a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, leaves after voting at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A protester holds a box of yellow ribbons for collect during a rally outside the government headquarters as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year.  (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A protester holds a box of yellow ribbons for collect during a rally outside the government headquarters as people march in a downtown street to support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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