Hong Kong proposes political reforms that expand legislature

Hong Kong's government proposed political reforms Wednesday that fell far short of full democracy but called for expanding the legislature and adding more people to a committee that picks the Chinese territory's leader.

The highly anticipated blueprint for change wasn't expected to say it was time for Hong Kong voters to have the freedom to elect their next leader and the entire legislature.

But many pro-democracy lawmakers were hoping the proposed changes would give the public greater say in who runs the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Addressing the legislature, Rafael Hui, the No. 2 ranking official, unveiled the proposal that a special taskforce has been working on for about a year.

The main suggestions included doubling the size of an election committee that picks Hong Kong's leader, or chief executive, increasing the membership from 800 to 1,600. The change was designed to address complaints that the panel has been stacked with figures partial to Beijing and did not adequately represent the public.

The proposed reforms also called for adding 10 more seats to the legislature. Only five of the seats would be directly elected by the public. The other five would be filled by district councilors, who would be elected by the group of 529 district councilors, who traditionally handle civic issues in their parts of the city, reports the AP. I.L.

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