People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, has slammed Hong Kong’s opposition pan-democrats after they voted down a Beijing-backed electoral reform bill.

In a commentary published on Friday titled “Opposition should bear full responsibility for hindering democratic progress in Hong Kong”, the paper said the pan-democrats’ were aiming to wrestle Hong Kong from Beijing’s control.

“They used any possible opportunity to fight the central government and the SAR government, dressed themselves as the defender of Hong Kong’s ‘core values’, demonised the central government and the SAR government, distorted ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the Basic Law.

“They rejected the universal suffrage proposal in order to compete with the central government for rights to govern Hong Kong and turn Hong Kong into an independent political entity.”

people's daily commentary
A commentary titled “Opposition should bear full responsibility for hindering democratic progress in Hong Kong” on the website of People’s Daily.

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s legislators rejected the government’s political reform plan for the election of the chief executive. The plan would have allowed voters to directly elect their chief executive for the first time, but from a pool of candidates vetted by a pro-Beijing nominating committee.

Legislators who opposed the reforms won the vote by a large margin after 33 pro-government lawmakers walked out in the last minute and missed the vote. The lawmakers later explained they were trying to force the meeting to stop to wait for another legislator who was on his way to the building. In the end 36 lawmakers voted, just enough for the result – eight for and 28 against – to be valid.

This means Hong Kong’s next leader will be elected in 2017 under the current system, by which the chief executive is chosen by a 1,200-strong committee. This is against the will of the majority of the public and it is not something the central government is willing to see, the paper said.

The failed reform plan proposed the chief executive be elected by the general public in 2017 through “one person one vote.” But candidates would have had to get the endorsement of at least half of a 1,200-strong nomination committee to run. And the number of candidates would have been restricted to two or three. Pan-democrats blasted the proposals as “fake democracy”.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.