It is necessary for the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to decide on the constitutional issues regarding the Legislative Council (LegCo) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), a central government official said in a statement released Tuesday.
Xia Baolong, head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, on Saturday explained the bill asking the NPC Standing Committee to make a decision for the sixth LegCo of the HKSAR to continue operation.
Lawmakers voted to adopt the decision on Tuesday.
Matters concerning the vacancy of the HKSAR LegCo due to the postponement of the seventh LegCo election can only be resolved by the NPC Standing Committee at the constitutional level, as the HKSAR Chief Executive only has the power to postpone the election under the applicable law in the HKSAR, said Xia.
The NPC Standing Committee has the power and duty to properly address constitutional issues arising from the implementation of the HKSAR Basic Law, according to Xia.
Chief Executive of the HKSAR Carrie Lam on July 31 announced the postponement of the LegCo election due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
The bill suggested that the sixth LegCo should continue performing duties for no less than a year until the term of the seventh LegCo starts, which not only coordinates with the decision made by the HKSAR Chief Executive in Council to postpone the election for a year but also provides room for the HKSAR to postpone the election due to epidemic reasons and relevant working requirements, Xia said.
A new round of the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in the HKSAR since July, with a total of 3,938 confirmed cases, including 2,874 locally-transmitted cases reported by Aug. 7, Xia said.
Infections were reported in various areas and sectors, with unknown infection sources for nearly half of the cases, Xia said, noting that the new round of the outbreak has heavily impacted the LegCo election.
Many political groups, social organizations and public figures in the HKSAR have urged the postponement of the LegCo election, saying that if the election is held as scheduled, it will be difficult to ensure fairness and openness, and it would also increase the risks of COVID-19 infections and endanger the voters and the polling staff, according to Xia.
The State Council believes that the decision to postpone the election has a solid legal basis, and fits the current epidemic conditions in the HKSAR, Xia said, calling it necessary and appropriate.