Photograph: Independence protestors in Hong Kong last month (Studio Incendo)
The Hong Kong government announced that elections scheduled for September would be postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Pro-democracy opposition candidates argue that this is another in a series of attempts to weaken their chances and slow the momentum growing around their platform.
The move to postpone elections comes soon after twelve pro-democracy candidates reported being barred from running as candidates, due to their opposition to a new security law and what have been perceived as “subversive intentions.”
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, however claimed, “It is purely on the basis of protecting the health and safety of the Hong Kong people and to ensure that the elections are held in a fair and open manner.”
One pro-democracy official, Eddie Chu, said on Twitter that the government wants “to avoid a potential devastating defeat.”
The security law that pro-democracy candidates opposed criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces. This has huge implications for freedom of speech and the power Beijing can wield in Hong Kong.