Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress' Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong Monday. Pic: AP.

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators have disrupted a Beijing official’s speech as he sought to explain a decision to tightly limit voting reforms for the southern Chinese financial hub.

They chanted slogans and held up placards accusing China’s central government of “breaking its promise” to let Hong Kong directly elect its leader.

The noisy demonstration at the start of Li Fei’s address was a rare occasion on which a Beijing official faced open defiance.

Li is a deputy secretary general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or legislature. He continued his speech after security officers hustled the lawmakers out of the auditorium.

On Sunday Beijing inflamed political tension by ruling out open nominations of candidates running for Hong Kong’s top job in inaugural elections in 2017.