The government of the South China region of Hong Kong has postponed elections to a “parliament”. They should have taken place in September.
The democratic opposition had hoped for a historic victory, but it will not happen for the time being.
According to the head of government Carrie Lam, elections for a new LegCo (or Legislative Council) cannot go ahead. They were planned for September 6, but Lam says the risk of spreading the coronavirus is too considerable.
Since the beginning of this year, 3,000 infections have been reported in a population of 7.5 million in Hong Kong, most of which are packed in a metropolitan area.
Hong Kong has thus kept the epidemic very well under control, but in the past ten days, the number of infections has indeed increased again sharply. Therefore, Lam postpones elections indefinitely. According to her, that could even be a year.
However, observers look mainly like a political manoeuvre from the pro-Chinese leader of Hong Kong. For example, 12 pro-democracy candidates for the LegCo had already been disqualified in recent days for allegedly engaging in “subversive activities” or undermining ties with China.
The democratic opposition had hoped to record a historic victory in the elections in the spirit of the mass popular protest against China last year.
It would also have been the first elections since the new “security law” that China uses to curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms.