Five Eyes States Criticize Hong Kong Government for Disqualifying Candidates, Delaying Elections

August 9, 2020 Updated: August 25, 2020

The Five Eyes countries on Sunday urged the Hong Kong government to uphold Hong Kong’s democratic process and hold the Legislative Council elections as soon as possible.

The foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Secretary of State issued a joint statement on Sunday, expressing concerns over the “unjust disqualification of candidates and disproportionate postponement of Legislative Council elections.”

“These moves have undermined the democratic process that has been fundamental to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” they said in a statement. “We express deep concern at Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law, which is eroding the Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights and liberties.”

The ministers urged the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates and not delay the elections, which were scheduled to be held on Sept. 6 but have been postponed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to Sept. 5, 2021.

“We support the legitimate expectations of the people of Hong Kong to elect Legislative Council representatives via genuinely free, fair, and credible elections. We call on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates so that the elections can take place in an environment conducive to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Basic Law. Beijing promised autonomy and freedoms under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle to the Hong Kong people in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty, and must honor its commitments. We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.”

Hong Kong activist Nathan Law welcomed the statement.

On July 30, 12 pro-democracy candidates announced on their respective Facebook pages that they had been disqualified from running in Hong Kong’s upcoming Legislative Council election. The Hong Kong government on the same day confirmed the disqualifications and issued a statement expressing adamant support for the decision.

On July 31, Lam announced the postponement of the 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council election by a year, citing a local surge in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases—a decision she said was backed by Beijing.

“The Legislative Council election of 2020 will come to an end as the emergency law takes effect,” stated Erick Tsang, secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs.

After the Hong Kong government disqualified pro-democracy candidates and postponed the election date, the United States, the European Union, and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, or IPAC, criticized the move as interfering with Hong Kong’s democratic process.

Yinyin Liao contributed to this report.