PROTESTS have engulfed Hong Kong and show no signs of stopping following a controversial extradition bill.
With ongoing protests at the airport, here’s the latest on demonstrations in the city-state and how British tourists could be affected.
Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong?
Protests have exploded across the city, with developments leading to significant violence and tourists unsure of their next steps.
The weekend protesters converge on Hong Kong’s airport and barricades were set up, forcing some passengers to walk with the baggage to catch flights.
On August 12 the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its advice, in the wake of a protest at the international airport that led to the cancellation of all flights.
The FCO warned: “In recent weeks, several large-scale political demonstrations have taken place on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and various suburbs in the New Territories.
“Unauthorised protests have become more frequent and widespread, affecting many areas across Hong Kong, including some areas popular with tourists on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and on Lantau Island (where Hong Kong International Airport is located).
“Clashes have taken place between police and protesters following otherwise peaceful protest activities. These have involved significant violence.
“Reports indicate protests are likely to continue.”
The FCO warns of unauthorised protests spreading across much of Hong Kong, including some areas popular with tourists on Hong Kong Island in Kowloon.
It warns: “Compared to authorised protests, unauthorised protests are met by a more rapid and more severe police response.
“Recent unauthorised protests have attracted heavy use of tear gas, including in built up and residential areas. You should therefore exercise vigilance in the vicinity of unauthorised protests.”
More than half a million Brits visit the autonomous territory in south eastern China every year, mostly without incident.
Violent crime is generally very low in Hong Kong, though travellers are always encouraged to take sensible precautions.
Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in the airport and it is the biggest disruption to the territory since protests began in early June.
Protesters have been demanding greater democratic freedoms and opposing Chinese influence in the territory.
How else could my stay be affected?
The FCO is warning visitors to “remain vigilant” and follow the advice of the local authorities to move away to a safe place.
“You should be prepared that the situation around protests and public gatherings could change quickly, with the potential for significant violence,” it says.
The FCO has also warned of possible disruption to transport and the possibility of protests spilling over into public spaces such as shopping centres.
It warns: “Demonstrations may lead to sections of the city being closed off and strikes by public transport workers will significantly disrupt services.
“In recent protests, bus routes, MTR stations, the Airport Express and the Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal have temporarily suspended operations without warning.”
Can I wear black?
Visitors have been advised to avoid wearing black while out and about to avoid being mistaken for protesters.
Thousands of protesters were pictured wearing black when they marched in Mong Kok, a shopping area.
It’s also alleged that the China-backed mobsters wearing white T-shirts targeted an overseas Filipino worker just for wearing a black T-shirt.
Deputy Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong, Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said he’d been on his way back from getting some food when he was detained by police.
No charges were filed, but the consul general is warning citizens to avoid wearing monochrome T-shirts at this time.
“We will continue to advise our citizens to avoid this area and preferably to avoid using black or white T-shirts,” he told Filstar.
What are the protests about?
A huge cross-section of society including lawyers, journalists, activists and business figures have joined in widespread protests across the region.
The demonstrations kicked off in June 2019 when Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, refused to scrap highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China and Taiwan.
Police and protesters have clashed throughout the past two months, with dozens injured and hundreds arrested.
That bill has been shelved for now – but the protests have now mushroomed into a broader backlash against the government amid fears of the growing control of China’s Communist party.
Protesters have said they will keep going until their demands are met.
These include the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.