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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 06:32 GMT
China criticises HK reform defeat
Pro-democracy protesters hold a candle-lit vigil outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council
Pro-democracy protesters welcomed defeat of the reforms
Beijing has criticised pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong for blocking a controversial electoral reform package.

A government spokesman said the defeat went against public opinion and the desires of China's central leadership.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong's legislators rejected Chief Executive Donald Tsang's reforms, saying they did not go far enough towards full democracy.

Mr Tsang said the rejection meant the territory had missed a "significant step" forward.

Pro-democracy lawmakers blocked both of his main proposals - to expand the committee responsible for electing the chief executive and to increase the size of the legislature.

The opposition camp opposes for sake of opposition
China Daily (Hong Kong edition)

They said neither proposal went far enough towards setting a timetable for full democracy in Hong Kong, which is governed as a special administrative region of China.

Earlier Mr Tsang said his proposals went as far as China and its allies in Hong Kong would allow.

The BBC's Hong Kong correspondent, Chris Hogg, says the defeat will probably confirm Beijing's suspicion that the territory's democrats are untrustworthy and unpatriotic - the very reasons, some analysts say, that China is reluctant to offer Hong Kong true democracy.


A spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of China's State Council said Wednesday's legislative vote was "not in line with the mainstream" of public opinion in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang (file photo)
Donald Tsang said the rejection of his proposals was "regrettable"
The defeated proposal had represented "the principle of developing Hong Kong democracy in proper order," he told Xinhua news agency, adding that the central government in Beijing was "unwilling to see the result".

Mr Tsang said the rejection of his plans for electoral reform meant Hong Kong had lost a "significant step" towards democracy.

He said he would not now offer an alternative before elections in 2007.

Speaking at a late-night news conference after Wednesday's vote, he called the result "regrettable" and warned of a serious split over constitutional reform.

But pro-democracy legislators insisted Mr Tsang's proposals were not ambitious enough.

"In this era of democracy, we do not see how Hong Kong people can be deprived of equality and one person, one vote," legislator Lee Cheuk-yan told Reuters news agency. Tens of thousands of people marched through the territory earlier this month to demand universal suffrage.

Since Hong Kong's sovereignty was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, the territory has been governed under a mini-constitution known as the Basic Law.

That stipulates that the chief executive should be elected by 800 people approved by Beijing. Although it states that the eventual aim is to introduce universal suffrage, it does not give a target date.

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22 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
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HK legislators vote down reforms
21 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
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04 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
HK leader bids for public support
30 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Donald Tsang
16 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Regions and territories: Hong Kong
13 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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