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Hong Kong on Friday announced it's delaying the city's upcoming legislative elections for one year, citing concerns over coronavirus.
The move represents another major blow to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, and bears unsettling parallels to President Donald Trump's recent efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election in the US.
Trump on Thursday suggested Election Day be delayed over bogus claims about mail-in voting.
In the latest blow to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the city's government on Friday announced that the legislative elections slated to occur in September would be postponed for a year.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, cited concerns over the coronavirus pandemic in announcing the move.
"It is a really tough decision to delay, but we want to ensure fairness, public safety and public health," Lam said, per the New York Times.
The announcement came roughly a month after Beijing passed a controversial new national security law in Hong Kong, which essentially criminalizes dissent, and just one day after a dozen pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running in the election. The government deemed the candidates unfit to run for office based on an array of arbitrary factors, including opposition to the new national security law.
Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator in Hong Kong running for reelection, on Twitter said that China's ruling communist party is "making a strategic retreat" to avoid "a potential devastating defeat" of pro-Beijing candidates in the elections.
The White House on Friday decried Hong Kong's decision to postpone its legislative elections as anti-democratic, just one day after President Donald Trump suggested the US should delay the 2020 election.
"Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Trump tweeted on Thursday, in an unsettling parallel to this week's developments in Hong Kong.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 31, 2020
Trump, borrowing from China's authoritarian playbook, cited bogus concerns over mail-in voting in suggesting Election Day be pushed back. Democrats have been advocating for increased access to mail-in voting over concerns of COVID-19 spreading at crowded polling places.
The president, who's trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, has repeatedly said that mail-in voting would lead to widespread voter fraud. But there's virtually no evidence to back Trump up, as voter fraud is extremely rare in the US.
Trump has no legal authority to delay the election, but the fact he even suggested postponing Election Day raises serious questions over whether the president will accept the results if he loses. If Trump rejects the outcome of the November 3 election, it could cause a constitutional crisis.
With his reelection campaign in trouble and approval rating in the gutter, it's clear Trump feels his best bet is to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
The president is therefore attempting to sow doubt in the integrity of America's electoral process among voters in case he loses. In doing so, Trump is mirroring the tactics of dictators like Chinese President Xi Jinping, who saw presidential term limits abolished in China two years ago in a move that effectively made him president-for-life.
"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said of Xi in a private speech to Republican donors at the time, according to a recording obtained by CNN. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot someday."
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