White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday condemned the decision to delay legislative elections in Hong Kong, one day after President Trump asked if the U.S. should postpone its own November election.
“We condemn the Hong Kong government’s decision to postpone for one year its legislative council elections and to disqualify opposition candidates,” McEnany said at a press briefing, reading from a prepared statement. “This action undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong’s prosperity, and this is only the most recent in a growing list of broken promises by Beijing, which promised autonomy and freedom to the Hong Kong people until 2047 in the Sino-British joint declaration.”
The Hong Kong government announced Friday that it would postpone elections scheduled for September due to the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported, citing risks to public health and strains on campaigns and voters caused by social distancing requirements and travel restrictions
Pro-democracy groups viewed the decision as an attempt to thwart opposition candidates challenging thouse supported by Beijing. Anti-establishment protests have roiled Hong Kong for more than a year, and have faced increasingly harsh crackdowns from the Chinese mainland.
The White House’s clear condemnation of the decision was striking given that Trump a day earlier had raised the idea of delaying the U.S. election in November due to the coronavirus, citing baseless claims that mail-in ballots would lead to a fraudulent result.
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Trump does not have the authority to move Election Day, and lawmakers in both parties swiftly and overwhelmingly rejected the idea out of hand. But the tweet came amid a broader effort by Trump to sow distrust in mail-in ballots, which are likely to be used in large numbers as an alternative to in-person voting amid the pandemic.
“Do I want to see a date change? No. But I don’t want to see a crooked election. This election will be the most rigged election in history if that happens,” Trump told reporters Thursday, referencing widespread mail-in voting.
Experts have noted that there is no evidence of meaningful voter fraud in mail-in voting, which has been widely used for decades.