The Hong Kong government has postponed the parliamentary election scheduled for September. Head of government Carrie Lam justified the controversial move with the fact that the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the Chinese special administrative area increased again. The BBC and the Chinese newspaper Global Times according to a one year postponement.
It was their most difficult decision yet, but it was about human health, said Lam. It would have been the first choice since China passed the controversial security law. The Hong Kong government relies on an emergency decree to move it. According to Lam, the Chinese government supports the decision.
This is a setback for the democracy movement in Hong Kong. The opposition is hoping for a majority of the votes to demonstrate citizens’ resistance to the new security law. Many western states have criticized the law sharply and accuse China of undermining civil rights in its special administrative zone.
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong spoke on Twitter of “apparently the largest election fraud in history” in Hong Kong. Beijing is taking several actions to prevent the opposition bloc from taking a majority in the Legislative Council, Wong continued. “They could disqualify us, arrest them, put them in prison or even cancel the election and create a puppet parliament elsewhere.” On Thursday, Wong had been excluded from the election as one of twelve opposition candidates.
The Chinese-critical opposition had hoped for a landslide victory in the election. The indicator for the Chinese-critical mood was the district elections at the end of November 2019. The opposition won 344 of the 452 seats in the district councils. The pro-Chinese camp lost its majority in 17 of the 18 districts. The unofficial area code for determining the opposition candidates in mid-July of this year was a demonstration of the influence of anti-Chinese forces with a record participation of more than 610,000 Hong Kongers.
In the election to the legislative council, the Hong Kongers can only vote on the allocation of half of the 70 seats. 30 additional seats are occupied by mostly pro-Chinese representatives from professional associations and five from the district councils. The democracy movement has demanded universal suffrage since the return of Hong Kong to China.
The Security Act is the most radical cut in the autonomy of the former British crown colony, which was promised to it when it was handed over to China in 1997 according to the “one country – two systems” principle for at least 50 years. It provides life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for numerous crimes that the Chinese authorities see as subversion, secession and terrorism. In the past year, rallies by the democracy movement and sometimes violent protests against the government and China’s influence had paralyzed Hong Kong for months.