Most pro-government politicians stage a walkout as the controversial election reform bill was headed for defeat.
Chinese state media have strongly criticised Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition politicians for being “destroyers” of democratic development, a day after they shot down Beijing’s election blueprint for the British former colony.
The rejection on Thursday was a rare instance of Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, voting so heavily against a proposal endorsed by China’s central legislature.
The government’s reform proposal would have given all residents the right to vote for the chief executive in 2017 for the first time, but it also adhered to a Chinese government ruling that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.
The Hong Kong veto of the reforms, which pro-democracy leaders dismissed as “fake democracy”, has been viewed by analysts as both a setback and an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party.
The Chinese Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper published an editorial on Friday deploring the vote and accusing the pro-democracy camp of being “selfish” for rejecting the government’s election proposals.
“The conduct and deeds of the opposition faction show that they are disturbers and destroyers in the process of the democratisation of Hong Kong,” the newspaper wrote in a commentary in its overseas edition.
“The goal of their veto of the universal suffrage bill is to contest the governance of Hong Kong by the central government, conspiring to turn Hong Kong into an independent political entity.”
People’s Daily was referring to the 28 legislators who voted against the proposal.
Hong Kong reacts
Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Hong Kong, said the vote also dominated the news headlines in Hong Kong on Friday.
“There is only one story on the front page of most newspapers here in Hong Kong,” he said.
“All of the papers poke fun at the pro-government lawmakers who tried to scupper Thursday’s vote by walking out of the assembly before the vote was taken.”
He said that most Hong Kong residents appear to want “a rational calm dialogue between representatives of the pro-democracy camp and officials of the central government in Beijing”, but that such discussions appeared unlikely for some time.