After Hong Kong's pro-democracy candidates scored a landslide win in local elections, Chinese state media called the results "skewed" and a "setback" for the city's drive for democracy.
Pan-democrats in Hong Kong won almost 90% of 452 district council seats in Sunday's elections — widely seen as a barometer of public sentiment after months of social unrest in the special administrative region. The results were also a stinging rebuke to Beijing-backed chief executive Carrie Lam and her administration.
"The result of Sunday's district council election marks a setback for Hong Kong's democratic development, as the results were skewed by the illegal activities of the opposition camp to the benefit of their candidates," said China Daily in an editorial on Monday.
"In the run-up to Sunday's voting, members of the opposition camp, particularly their young agitators, engaged in an all-out campaign to sabotage the campaign activities of pro-establishment candidates and intimidate their supporters from going to the ballot box," added the English language newspaper.
Hong Kong — a former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 — has been plagued by months of anti-government protests. The Chinese territory operates under the "one country, two systems" framework which grants Hong Kong self-governing power and various freedoms, including limited election rights. Demonstrators are angry at what they say is Chinese meddling in some of those freedoms.
The Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily reported Tuesday that the local elections in Hong Kong have concluded, but it did not mention the result.
The newspaper also said the months-long social unrest in Hong Kong has "severely disrupted the elections process" and added that "patriotic candidates" were harassed on the day of the election by those seeking chaos, according to a CNBC translation.
In a commentary on Monday, state news agency Xinhua blamed "foreign forces" and said the election "fell victim" to the social unrest.
"During the past more than five months, rioters conspired with foreign forces and escalated violent acts, which resulted in political antagonism, social splits, and setbacks in the economy," Xinhua said in the editorial.
"Campaigns of some patriotic candidates were seriously disrupted, and their offices were trashed and set ablaze. One candidate was injured in an attack. Harassment on patriotic candidates occurred on the voting day," according to the news agency.
The Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party flagship paper People's Daily, said on Monday the election was "highly politicized amid the ongoing social unrest," even as it sparked "reflection."
Beijing has not commented directly on the results of Hong Kong's election although President Xi Jinping's government has blamed foreign interference in its domestic affairs.
"The most pressing task for Hong Kong at the moment is stopping violence and restoring order. As Hong Kong is part of China, its affairs are purely domestic affairs. China is determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests," said Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman at a scheduled press conference on Monday, according to an official transcript.
"We are determined in implementing the principle of 'one country, two systems' and in opposing external interference in Hong Kong affairs," Geng added.