The Hong Kong government has threatened to reserve the right to take necessary action against the Wall Street Journal for alleged incitement in its editorial.
Erick Tsang, the Hong Kong government’s Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal with the warning in response to an editorial it published last week commenting on the Hong Kong Legislative Council election.
In the editorial, titled “Hong Kong Says Vote- or Else,” the WSJ said that Hong Kong’s planned legislative elections this month are a “fraudulent vote “It shows that China is “destroying the autonomy it has guaranteed (to Hong Kong)” and “trying to strengthen its political repression even overseas.
The editorial said the Legislative Council election diminishes Hong Kong’s already limited chance for democracy and that “boycotts and blank votes are a last resort for Hong Kong people to express their political views.”
In his letter, Tsang said he was “shocked” by the statement and warned that Hong Kong prohibits “inciting another person not to vote or to cast a blank vote,” regardless of whether the incitement is made locally or overseas.
We reserve the right to take necessary action,” he said.
Under a new system of Legislative Council elections imposed by Beijing, only pre-screened candidates can run for office, and only 20 of the 90 Legislative Council seats are open for direct election, half the number in the past.
To reduce questions about the legitimacy of this legislative election, the Hong Kong government recently enacted legislation that prohibits encouraging people to boycott local elections or inciting them to cast spoiled or blank votes. But the legislation does not prohibit people from avoiding voting or refusing to vote.
Government officials also warned that organizing boycotts could violate Hong Kong’s national security laws.
The Hong Kong government last week issued arrest warrants for two Hong Kong activists living overseas for using social media to call on people not to vote, and arrested three others in Hong Kong on the same grounds.