hong kong lawmakers reject bill dnt watson_00012524.jpg
Hong Kong lawmakers reject Beijing-backed bill
02:39 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Hong Kong's legislature rejects Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal

8 voted for, 28 voted against: Some lawmakers walked out

NEW: China says any future reform must still adhere to vetoed proposal

Hong Kong CNN  — 

A bill proposed by the Chinese government that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to vote for their next leader – as long as the candidates were approved by Beijing – has been rejected by the city’s legislature.

In a vote Thursday, 28 out of Hong Kong’s 70 lawmakers rejected the proposal. Eight voted in favor.

As voting began, a large group of pro-government legislators attempted to stall the vote with a last-minute walkout of the chamber – but the vote continued without them, leading to the bill’s hefty defeat.

The result was seen as a rebuke to the Chinese government, which has tried to bring Hong Kong closer to the mainland since it was returned from British rule in 1997.

The bill was the subject of much contention in Hong Kong and came in the wake of massive street protests that gripped the city last fall.

Democracy supporters had refused to accept the proposal, saying that electing candidates vetted and approved by a Beijing loyalist committee would amount to “fake universal suffrage.”

Pro-democracy legislator Albert Chan, who voted against the bill, called the result a “victory.”

“We do not want to have a fake democratic system in Hong Kong,” he told CNN. “We want to continue fight for genuine democracy.”

But Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, told CNN the result was “highly regrettable… this does not bode well for governance.”

Bitter division

The vote brought little resolution after years of intense disagreement over how to establish universal suffrage in Hong Kong – a promise made to the city when it was returned from British to Chinese rule 17 years ago.

Establishment lawmakers said the defeated bill would have fulfilled that long-awaited promise. But democracy supporters disagreed.

“We are not gullible. We will not buy into such delusions for the sake of a quiet life,” said legislator Claudia Mo during debate over the bill. “We have no choice but to vote against it.”