Hong Kong delays election by a year, blames coronavirus

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 31, 2020.
(Image credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Hong Kong is delaying its upcoming election by a full year.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Friday said the Legislative Council election that was scheduled to take place on Sept. 6 will be postponed due to coronavirus concerns, CNN reports. This comes as Hong Kong has seen its number of coronavirus infections rise after previously having no locally transmitted cases for weeks.

"It is a really tough decision to delay but we want to ensure fairness, public safety and public health," Lam said, per The New York Times.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

But critics slammed the move and cast doubt on the reasoning behind it, with pro-democracy legislator Eddie Chu previously saying such a postponement would be a "strategic retreat" and arguing that the Chinese Communist Party simply wanted "to avoid a potential devastating defeat" from pro-democracy opposition candidates, per the Times.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung also told The Wall Street Journal that this move suggests the government is "trying to buy time" because "they foresee a landslide win for the democratic camp and they want to prevent that from happening." Chinese University of Hong Kong associate professor Ma Ngok told the Times the coronavirus explanation likely "won't be very convincing," though, as people in Hong Kong "are allowed to go to work, take the subway, take the bus, stand in long queues and then not allowed to vote?"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said this week that Hong Kong's elections "must proceed on time" and suggested that if they don't, this will "simply prove that the Chinese Communist Party has now made Hong Kong just another communist-run city." After President Trump on Thursday floated the idea of delaying the U.S. presidential election, Times reporter Daniel Victor wrote, "A lot of people's worst fear in the U.S. is actually happening in Hong Kong."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.