One Day After Trump Suggests Delay, Hong Kong Postpones Elections to 2021

A day after President Donald Trump called for the presidential election to be delayed, Hong Kong announced their September legislative elections will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the move was necessary in the interest of public health and fairness during the election.

Lam's announcement comes as Hong Kong experiences what may be a second wave of COVID-19. Infections have been on the rise after there were no reports of transmission in June.

"The new wave of epidemics may take several weeks or even longer. Even if the previous experience in April or May, even if the epidemic stabilizes, the society will take some time to recover. Experts say unless it is immediate that they develop and supply effective vaccines, otherwise a winter outbreak is very likely to occur by the end of the year," said Lam.

Lam invoked an emergency ordinance that allows her to postpone the elections.

Previously slated for September 6, the vote for Legislative Council comes every four years. While it is unclear if the current council will continue for the extra year, Lam said the Chinese central government will make a submission to the National People's Congress for what happens next.

Carrie Lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a press conference on July 31, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. On Friday, Lam announced Hong Kong would be postponing their September elections due to the coronavirus outbreak. Anthony Kwan/Stringer

The delay has come under criticism by pro-democracy activists who claim the government is using the pandemic to postpone a crucial election, following the recent imposition of China's national security law on Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy candidates won by a landslide in local council elections last year. Some hoped the same result would be replicated in September's elections for legislative council, adding more pressure to the current Chinese and Hong Kong governments.

This week, Hong Kong barred 12 pro-democracy candidates from standing in local election on the grounds that the candidates would not uphold the Basic Law, the Hong Kong's constitution. The decision raised serious concerns over whether the new security law from Beijing may have obliterated political opposition in the city.

Newsweek reached out to Lam for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Hong Kong's announcement comes only a day after Trump was widely condemned by the American public for suggesting the November 3 election be postponed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote."

Trump has argued that going forward with the election would result in "the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history" due to the increase in mail-in voting.

Many states have pushed to expand mail-in voting in response to the pandemic in efforts to curb the outbreak. The president has continually made unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud, despite little evidence and opposition from election security experts.

A number of Democratic officials have warned that Trump will use the global health crisis to delegitimize the upcoming election.

A decision to delay the election would have to go through both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. No U.S. presidential election has ever been postponed.