Hong Kong to postpone picking new leader amid outbreak

Published February 19, 2022, 7:14 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

HONG KONG, China — Hong Kong on Friday said it would postpone plans to pick the city’s new leader, in a fresh blow for the government as it struggles to tackle a wave of coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam takes part in a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on February 18, 2022, where she announced the city would postpone picking a new leader until May and was preparing to test the entire population for Covid-19 as it struggles to tackle a wave of infections. Daniel SUEN / AFP

The Chinese financial hub is currently in the throes of its worst-ever coronavirus outbreak, registering thousands of confirmed cases a day with hospitals reaching breaking point and a Beijing-mandated zero-Covid policy collapsing.

A small committee of Beijing loyalists had been set to pick the city’s new chief executive in late March, with the nomination period for candidates beginning Sunday.

But current leader Carrie Lam on Friday announced the selection would need to be pushed back to May 8.

“The decision is due to Hong Kong facing the most severe situation since the pandemic began two years ago. It is a critical situation,” she told reporters.

“This is also in line with the spirit expressed by President Xi Jinping in his important instructions, namely that we must make controlling the epidemic our overriding priority,” she added, referring to China’s leader.