What to Expect When Traveling in Hong Kong


On the weekend of 27 July, large-scale demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people took place in central Hong Kong for the ninth consecutive week. On Saturday, riot police fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas to disperse assembled crowds, whilst marches on Sunday saw the largest turnout thus far. Smaller-scale protests have continued throughout Monday and Tuesday, during which demonstrators have blocked access to commuter trains during the morning rush hour.
The underlying message of these statements is that at this juncture, China wants to convey that authority in Hong Kong is still firmly in the hands of the Executive, and Beijing has acted, and will continue to act, in a passive role for now. The pro-Communist Party media outlets in China have been doubling down on their use of escalatory rhetoric over the last week in an apparent bid to steer public opinion against the Hong Kong protesters.

Short Term Outlook

Image retrieved from Evening Standard.

In the short-term, protests are expected to persist in central Hong Kong on a daily basis. Access to commuter trains and inner-city roads will be periodically blocked during these events, leading to restrictions and transport disruptions for commuters, students and tourists.
Weekday protest activities have been conducted with very little advanced notice, and in some cases have resulted in spontaneous gatherings, resulting in unpredictable delays. Isolated, sporadic incidents of violence between members of the public and protesters are also likely to continue as commuters become increasingly frustrated with the disruption.
Weekend protests will continue to see the largest turnout, when the risk of escalatory violence between participants and police is the most elevated. The deployment of tear gas and water cannon is highly likely in central areas as police attempt to disperse demonstrators. In some instances, riot police have also used rubber bullets and sponge grenades to the same effect, raising the risk of injury to bystanders.

Long Term Outlook

Image retrieved from npr

In the long-term, it is possible that this episode will encourage Beijing to take a more heavy-handed approach to Hong Kong. Under the current circumstances, Hong Kong’s autonomy is likely to be maintained, unless the security situation deteriorates significantly, whilst for now the city’s government and police force remain in control and committed to the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. 

Advice for Travelers

Image retrieved from Times Daily.

While there are no official travel warnings that explicitly advise against traveling to Hong Kong, travelers should exercise caution. Here are a few ways to stay safe during your travels: 
  • Keep a lookout for news about any demonstrations in the area and steer clear of any signs of disorder. 
  • Do not travel by yourself if you’re new to the area. Having others around will be helpful in the case of an emergency.
  • Do not wear white or black clothes while traveling in Hong Kong as black is representative of the Chinese territory’s movement while men in white shirts have been blamed for mob attacks against the protestors.
  • Expect minor flight delays at the Hong Kong International Airport in light of recent protests within the airport.
  • If traveling by train, check the status of your train before you leave the hotel. 
  • If you are scheduled to travel to Hong Kong, contact your travel agency or the airline company to confirm your trip and flight status, inquire about possible cancellations and policies for rescheduling your trip or reimbursement.
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Posted: 8/2/2019 9:00:00 AM