Hong Kong's legislature has rejected a Beijing-based electoral reform proposal on how to select the city's next leader.
Just eight lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, according to The South China Morning Post, after around three dozen pro-Beijing lawmakers staged a surprise walk-out a moment before the ballot.
The bill had required two-thirds support in the 70-seat Legislative Council, or 47 votes, for passage. As expected, all 27-pan-democractic legislators voted against the proposal.
The proposed electoral reforms grant Hong Kong's citizens the right to vote for their next chief executive in the 2017 for the first time, but under the condition that candidates would be pre-screened by a nominating committee - a major point of controversy among many of the city's five million eligible voters.
Pro-democracy activists had dismissed the reform proposals as "fake universal suffrage", saying they want genuinely democratic elections.
"This veto has helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing ... that we want a genuine choice, a real election," said pan-democratic lawmaker Alan Leong, Reuters reported.
"This is not the end of the democratic movement," he said. "This is a new beginning."
Meanwhile, hundreds of Beijing supporters had converged outside government buildings as city legislators voted on the electoral package.
There have been fears that a veto would lead to fresh unrest on Hong Kong streets between pro-democracy activists and Beijing supporters.
Mainland Chinese media warned that a veto of the proposal could pose a threat to the financial center. Weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong late last year posed one of the biggest challenge in years for China's ruling Communist Party.