23 May 2024

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday postponed a Sept. 6 election to the Chinese-ruled city’s legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition which had hoped to make huge gains.

The United States quickly condemned the move, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the Chinese-ruled territory.

“This action undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong’s prosperity,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters.

The decision to delay the vote came after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running for perceived subversive intentions and opposition to a sweeping new security law imposed by Beijing, prompting questions among many about whether the pandemic was the real reason for the delay.

“Postponing the September elections for a year is a cynical move to contain a political emergency, not a public health one,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.