There were farcical scenes in Hong Kong this week as the government’s proposals to “reform” the system

under which its chief executive is to be elected in 2017 went down to a surprisingly complete defeat in the
legislature. The incompetently led pro-Beijing block, trying to delay a vote it knew it would lose, ordered a
walk-out of its members. But the attempt to strip the chamber of a quorum failed, since a few pro-Beijing
members did not hear, or did not heed, the call to withdraw. The “pan-democratic forces” won
handsomelyinstead of narrowly, which would almost certainly have been the case had the pro-Beijing
people all stayed in the assembly.

The outcome may have been accidental, but it is a reminder of how unsuccessful Beijing’s efforts to shift
public opinion in Hong Kong toward acceptance of its proposals have been. Beijing thought that by having
the candidates vetted by a committee packed with its supporters it could discharge its obligation to bring
in universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive without risking its tight control of the system.
Since the huge street protests against those proposalspetered out earlier this year, the government has
mounted a relentless campaign to turn opinion around and to persuade a few in the pro-democracy group
in the legislative council to reconsider their position, making it possible to achieve the two-thirds majority
needed to put the reform package through.

The campaign has offered no real concessions, either on the election of the chief executive or on the way
in which the legislative council itself is elected. Instead, it has sought to isolate the pro-democracy group
and to paint it as anti-democratic. In this topsy turvy world, people who want a free choice in electing their
leader are voting “against the wishes of the majority of Hong Kong people” and denying them “the
democratic right to elect the chief executive in the next election”, as Leung Chun-ying, the current chief
executive, put it in a statement. But the campaign seems to have had the paradoxical effect of reinforcing
the feeling of many Hong Kong people that there is little to choose between the old system and the
supposedly improved version: in both, Beijing’s will is the paramount element.

A little give last year on the procedure for choosing candidates for the chief executive’s job would have
brought Beijing a lot of credit without undermining its influence in Hong Kong. Even now, some flexibility
on the way the legislative council is formed might provide the basis for a partial settlement of political
difference. But compromise is not, it seems, in the Chinese tool box. Hong Kong matters less to it
economically than used to be the case. Its attachment to democracy in the western sense, to freedom of
the press, and its anger at the entrenchment of a rich local elite which has climbed on board the Beijing
bandwagon, are now just irritants for the master planners at the top in China. But, remember, it was
supposed to be “one country, two systems”, something that Beijing seems to have forgotten, or perhaps
never really understood.

but ruled that candidates had to be vetted by Beijing. the chief executive.China has promised the semi-autonomous territory direct elections in 2017. Lam Woon-kwong of the Executive Council. Pro-democracy legislators . was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.who hold about 40% of the seats in the Legislative Council . As a result. This committee would be formed "in accordance with" Hong Kong's largely pro-Beijing election committee. and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected. we want real universal suffrage. the Basic Law. Protester Julia Choi told the AP news agency that pro-democracy candidates "would not even be nominated. says that "the ultimate aim" is to elect the chief executive "by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures". but many in Hong Kong are opposed to it. Many demonstrators carried yellow umbrellas . a former British colony. Any candidate would have to secure the support of more than 50% of the nominating committee before being able to run in the election. is currently elected by a 1. Hong Kong's mini-constitution." But speaking on local radio on Sunday. A large banner caricaturing Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung read: "Reject fake democracy." Hong Kong legislators have rejected a reform package that would have allowed direct elections for the territory's leader in 2017. where the city would enjoy "a high degree of autonomy. Hong Kong's top policy-making body. except in foreign and defence affairs" for 50 years. Democracy activists argue that this gives China the ability to screen out any candidates it disapproves of. warned protesters: "You can't threaten the central authorities. we do not have the rights to elect who we want". A majority of the representatives are viewed as pro-Beijing. But in August 2014 China's top legislative committee ruled that voters would only be able to choose from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee. What are the reforms about? The Chinese government promised direct elections for chief executive by 2017.the symbol of the political campaign. Hong Kong has its own legal system. two systems".strongly oppose the move. . so this is pseudo-universal suffrage. Its leader. What is Hong Kong's relationship with China? Hong Kong. China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of "one country. The reforms were endorsed by the Chinese government.200-member election committee.

the student groups have become a key player as well.Despite talks between the students and high-level officials. led by academic Benny Tai. What is the Hong Kong government's stand? Chief Executive CY Leung hailed Beijing's decision on election candidacy as a "major step forward in the development of Hong Kong's society".dubbed the Umbrella Movement . But pro-democracy legislators vetoed the bill. which marked the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. two systems" model. and called last year's street occupations "illegal". Occupy Central organised an unofficial referendum on political reform in June 2014. saying that Hong Kong has benefited from the "one country. . of which the Hong Kong government is financially independent. as it grapples with demands for greater autonomy in Xinjiang and Tibet.the camps were gradually dismantled by police.when Occupy Central decided to join in. On 16 June. China has constantly stressed that unity is the way forward for the country. What does China say? China has consistently denounced pro-democracy protests.and 88% of participants said the legislative council should veto any political reform package that did not satisfy international standards and allow a genuine choice for voters. "We hope that the moderate pan-democrats will see through the true face of radical forces. the protests ended with no concessions from government. ahead of the vote on the reform package. which later grew into full-scale city-wide protests . which requires the support of two-thirds of the 70-seat legislature to pass. and student groups such as the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism. It also welcomed the Chinese government's white paper. tens of thousands of protesters took part in what observers say was Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy rally in a decade on 1 July. His government said June's unofficial referendum had no legal standing. China said some had a "confused and lopsided" understanding of the "one country. Prominent pro-democracy groups include Occupy Central. But in late November and December the protests petered out . About one in five Hong Kong residents turned out for it . two systems" constitutional principle. Under the "one country.Tens of thousands camped in the streets for weeks. two systems" model.Hong Kong's government put together an electoral reform package based on Beijing's ruling. holding their ground despite clashes with police." Song Ruan was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. is responsible for Hong Kong's defence and foreign affairs. What do democracy activists say? They have dubbed the proposed new system a "sham democracy". In a June 2014 white paper.In late September they led a week of class boycotts.Shortly after the vote.Since then. The Government of the People's Republic of China. the Government is exclusively in charge of Hong Kong's internal affairs and external relations. the deputy commissioner for Beijing's foreign affairs office in Hong Kong denounced the "despicable means" and "extremely violent activities" of opposition activists.

often authorit arian party holdspower. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single. claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equ ally shared by the people. Communism a. .