Postponing HKSAR LegCo election ensures efforts of COVID-19 response

Photo taken on July 27, 2019 shows the view of the Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. People’s Daily Online/Duan Changzheng

Chinese lawmakers on Tuesday, August 11, voted to adopt a decision for the sixth Legislative Council (LegCo) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to continue performing duties for no less than a year until the term of the seventh LegCo starts.

The decision was passed at the 21st session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature.

The decision fully demonstrates the Chinese central government’s care for the safety, lives and health of Hong Kong citizens, and its support for Hong Kong’s victory over the COVID-19 epidemic, economic recovery and livelihood improvement. It also eliminates the worries of the HKSAR government and the Hong Kong society in fighting the virus, injecting strong confidence.

At present, COVID-19 is still rampant around the world. Facts have repeatedly proved that to control the virus is an urgent task to ensure people’s health and lives, as well as a premise for the normal economic and social functioning. Hong Kong encountered a fresh COVID-19 outbreak this July, facing severe situation of epidemic control.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in late July to postpone the election of the seventh-term LegCo, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 6, 2020, for one year due to the epidemic. The arrangement made by the Standing Committee of the NPC concerning the vacancy of the LegCo not only conforms to the Constitution, but also contributes to Hong Kong’s efforts to contain COVID-19.

Based on global experiences of fight COVID-19, only by putting people’s lives in the first place can the world achieve a final victory over the virus and restore economic and social orders.

If the election of the seventh-term LegCo started on original schedule, there would be over 3 million citizens voting, which would pose a high risk of cross infection given the current epidemic situation in the special administrative region. This would no doubt cause unexpected troubles and pressure for Hong Kong’s COVID-19 control, as well as direct threats against the lives and health of Hong Kong residents.

Under such background, to postpone the seventh-term LegCo election and have the sixth LegCo continue performing its duties conforms to the need of science-based epidemic control and helps uphold justice and equity of the LegCo election. It shows the high responsibility of the government in protecting the lives and health of the Hong Kong residents.

Matters must be dealt with in an order of priority. At present, Hong Kong is confronted with a complicated situation where the fresh outbreak is intertwined with economic and livelihood issues. The anti-extradition bill movement taking place in June last year has already plunged Hong Kong’s economy into a recession, and the COVID-19 epidemic is making the situation even worse. According to statistics, Hong Kong’s economy in the second quarter of 2020 contracted 9 percent over a year earlier, and its private consumption expenditure decreased 14.5 percent in real terms in the same period. The HKSAR will face even bigger pressure in autumn if its COVID-19 situation couldn’t be well controlled, let alone economic stability. Therefore, only by concentrating on COVID-19 control can the government restore normal social order and facilitate the special administrative region’s economic recovery and livelihood improvement.

Hong Kong belongs to the Chinese family, and the central government and the Chinese mainland will always be the largest backer of it as they are committed to protecting the lives and health of Hong Kong compatriots.

As early as the COVID-19 epidemic just broke out, the central government has timely coordinated the supply of anti-epidemic materials and daily necessities for the HKSAR, and helped evacuate Hong Kong citizens stranded in the Chinese mainland and overseas back to Hong Kong.

Facing the new round of COVID-19 outbreak, the central government has dispatched a medical team from Guangdong province to Hong Kong, offered medical materials such as masks and protective suits, and provided free nucleic acid testing for Hong Kong citizens. It is trying its best to help the HKSAR contain the epidemic and protect the lives and health of Hong Kong residents.

Therefore, to postpone the timely decision made by the Standing Committee of the NPC not only is the optimal solution to the vacancy of the LegCo, but also will offer strong support for Hong Kong’s efforts to contain the epidemic.

People’s lives come first amid COVID-19. To concentrate on combating the virus and ensure the lives and health of the citizens is a priority that comes before everything in Hong Kong. All sectors in Hong Kong must work together and shelve differences to defeat the virus under the leadership of the HKSAR government, and bring the Hong Kong society back to normal.

We believe that under the firm supports of the central government, as well as the generous assistance from the Chinese mainland, the HKSAR government will definitely bring an early win over the virus and usher in a brighter future of the special administrative region.

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