Hong Kong entered a new bout of struggle over its political future on Wednesday, as the local government offered only minor changes to an election overhaul plan that set off months of pro-democracy demonstrations last year. Opposition lawmakers denounced the latest proposals, signaling the start of a political contest that will make or break the government’s plans. The Hong Kong government has wagered that it can persuade enough city legislators, and members of the public, to accept the latest proposal as the best deal that can be had from the Chinese Communist Party, whose leader, Xi Jinping, has repeatedly condemned liberal democracy as anathema to Chinese values.
“It’s not possible to satisfy everyone in just one proposal,” the chief secretary of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam, said in presenting the election plan to the city’s Legislative Council, which will vote on whether to make it law.
“We should weigh very carefully whether the passage of these proposals or a standstill in constitutional development will be a more favorable outcome for the overall and long-term interests of Hong Kong,” Ms. Lam said.
But as she spoke, about two dozen pro-democracy lawmakers walked out of the legislative chamber and condemned the proposal as a betrayal of Hong Kong’s democratic hopes. “The government’s proposal allows a small circle of people to control the nomination process, hence control the election outcome, turning the people into voting tools,” one of them, Alan Leong, declared to Ms. Lam before he walked out.