HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese state media blasted Hong Kong's pro-democracy opposition lawmakers on Friday for being "destroyers" of democratic development a day after they shot down Beijing's election blueprint for the British former colony.
The Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper published an editorial deploring the vote and accusing the pro-democracy camp of being "selfish" and not heeding public opinion in rejecting the government's election proposals.
"The actions of the opposition camp show they are the upsetters and destroyers of Hong Kong's democratic development process," the People's Daily said.
The Hong Kong government had proposed allowing voters in the Asian financial hub to choose the city's leader for the first time in 2017 so long as candidates were vetted by a Beijing-friendly panel of elites.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets last year to protest the plan, which they branded "fake democracy," and to demand genuine choice of candidates. The proposal was defeated Thursday because Hong Kong's government could not muster enough support from pro-democracy lawmakers, who had stuck to their promise of voting against it.
The People's Daily editorial said pro-democracy lawmakers should take "full responsibility" for blocking the proposal but didn't mention an embarrassing blunder by pro-establishment lawmakers that left most of them accidentally unable to vote in support.
The 33 pro-establishment lawmakers took out a half-page newspaper ad to "deeply apologize" for walking out moments before the vote in a bungled attempt to prevent a quorum from being reached. They said they wanted more time for an elderly, ailing member to return to cast a vote. But some others remained inside because of miscommunication, allowing the vote to go ahead.
"We did not accurately grasp the opportunity," the statement said.
One pro-establishment lawmaker, Regina Ip, broke down in tears during a radio show appearance after the host asked about the blunder.
"I feel very sad and very sorry that we've failed many people's expectations. I saw many of our supporters were scolding us online," she said. "The error this time is very regrettable."
Associated Press writer Chris Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.