HONG KONG Hong Kong lawmakers on Thursday pelted Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with objects including a glass of water, while others shouted and held up signs demanding democratic reforms in the former British colony.
The incident within the Legislative Council came a day after hundreds of police dragged pro-democracy activists from the Central business district and arrested more than 500.
The glass did not hit Leung, but shattered when it hit the floor. Leung, who nervously sipped water after the incident, accused legislators of using "abusive language" and taking "increasingly radical actions".
During an annual demonstration on July 1 to mark the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, hundreds of thousands of marchers called on Leung to resign, saying he has failed to serve the people of the Asian financial centre.
Leung, who rejected calls to stand down, expressed his regret over the incident and his office released a statement saying it had contacted the police.
A police spokesperson said in an email to Reuters that no arrests had been made, although they were investigating the incident.
Some of the lawmakers said they were angry about how the Hong Kong government had handled a recent decision to fund two new towns, while others were protesting against the government's failure to respond to an unofficial referendum on democracy in which nearly 800,000 voted.
The referendum was followed by a pro-democracy march on Tuesday and a sit-in that saw more than 1,000 people hunker down for the night in Hong Kong's Central business district.
Hong Kong became a special administrative region of China in 1997 when the British left. It is governed under a "one country, two systems" policy in which it has wide-ranging autonomy including a separate legal system.
Pro-democracy activists, however, say China is failing to make good on its promise of universal suffrage. They want elections in 2017 in which everyone can cast a vote for the chief executive.
China wants only pro-Beijing candidates on the ballot.
The standoff intensified last month when Beijing published an unprecedented cabinet-level white paper bluntly reminding Hong Kong that China remains firmly in control of Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Nikki Sun, Twinnie Siu and Alice Woodhouse; Writing by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)