US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged Hong Kong to reverse a decision to suspend its legislative elections amid a resurgence of the coronavirus, saying the delay would be another blow to its autonomy from Beijing, the media reported.
In a statement published on Sunday morning, Pompeo condemned the decision by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to invoke her emergency powers to postpone the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for September 6, until September 5, 2021, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“We urge Hong Kong authorities to reconsider their decision,” he said.
The elections should be held as close to the September 6 date as possible and in a manner that reflects the will and aspirations of the Hong Kong people.
“If they aren’t, then regrettably Hong Kong will continue its march toward becoming just another Communist-run city in China.
“There is no valid reason for such a lengthy delay… It is likely, therefore, that Hong Kong will never again be able to vote – for anything or anyone,” the SCMP newspaper quoted Pompeo as saying in the statement.
As relations between Washington and Beijing remain tense, the US has moved to end preferential treatment for Hong Kong over what it sees as an erosion of its autonomy and freedoms.
Besides Pompeo, Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers have also decried the election delay as a political move, with pro-democracy candidates expected to secure an unprecedented majority in the 70-seat legislature after dominating in the district council elections last November.
A day before the postponement was announced, election officials barred 12 opposition candidates from running, in some cases on the grounds of them previously supporting US sanctions on Hong Kong – which can now be considered an offence under the national security law imposed by China on the city.