In the editorial published on November 29, the Journal described the city’s upcoming elections as a “sham,” and that “boycotts and blank ballots are one of the last ways for Hong Kongers to express their political views.”
Tsang said that he was “shocked” by that claim.
“Please be advised that inciting another person not to vote, or to cast an invalid vote, by activity in public during an election period is an offense,” he wrote. “We reserve the right to take necessary action.”
The newspaper declined to comment. Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs office did not respond to a request for further comment from CNN Business.
In its piece, the Wall Street Journal editorial board suggested that the government had delayed the vote because “during the November 2019 district council elections, Hong Kongers humiliated China by voting in record numbers to elect pro-democracy candidates.”
“We bring you this message from Hong Kong because China’s Communist Party wants the world to forget how it crushed the autonomy it promised to the territory,” wrote the board.
In his letter, Tsang rejected the claim, saying that the delay had been due to “the public health risk posed by Covid-19, not because of the result of the district council election.”
The article, which ran at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, angered “the Chinese people and the international community,” a Chinese government spokesperson said at the time, adding that the Journal had “neither issued an official apology nor informed us of what it plans to do with the persons involved.”
Deputy bureau chief Josh Chin and reporters Chao Deng and Philip Wen were given days to leave the country.
In its recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal said that “Hong Kongers risk harsh penalties if they protest in public.”
Tsang also rejected the statement, saying that the city’s laws “stipulate that rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, the press, publication, association, assembly and demonstration, shall be protected.”
“But any manipulation to sabotage an election will not be tolerated,” wrote the secretary. “It is perfectly in line with international practice for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to take enforcement action against lawbreakers who attempt to sabotage elections.”
Hong Kong warns Wall Street Journal of legal action over election editorial