September 12, 2019

On Sept. 4, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a highly controversial extradition bill that would have allowed for the extradition of criminal suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China on a case-by-case basis. The bill sparked months of protests by groups fearing Beijing's increased influence in the territory. Protests have continued, despite the bill's withdrawal.

While the extradition bill was the main catalyst of the demonstrations, the decentralized protest movement also maintains four other demands, which are:

  • The establishment of an independent inquiry into recent instances of alleged police brutality against protesters
  • The release of all arrested activists
  • No longer designating some protests as "riots"
  • Universal suffrage in all local Hong Kong elections

The Hong Kong government is highly unlikely to grant these demands. Therefore, protests are highly likely to continue.

Mainstream activist groups in Hong Kong continue to announce well-attended and largely peaceful demonstrations in advance. However, protests have also taken the form of smaller demonstrations organized online. Although smaller, these demonstrations are also more volatile, with gatherings often occurring at police stations where arrested protesters are held.

Anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong have taken three distinct forms:

  • Large rallies that are announced in advance
  • Smaller demonstrations organized online
  • General strikes that have prompted city-wide business and transportation disruptions

The withdrawal of the controversial bill could see gradually lower participation at mainstream protests. However, a more hardcore group of protesters, who in recent weeks have deployed burning barricades on the streets, targeted MTR stations, and clashed with the police, are likely to continue their impromptu gatherings. These protests are most likely at police facilities and MTR stations, and they typically take place during the weekends and weekday evenings. The potential for serious violence at the impromptu protests remains high.

Tourists have primarily been impacted by the Aug. 5 general strike, which caused widespread business and transportation disruptions throughout Hong Kong, and disruptive protests at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), Aug. 12-13. Other protest actions tend to cause more localized ground transport disruptions, such as police barricades and roadblocks. Travelers should continue to monitor relevant developments in Hong Kong and confirm travel arrangements if organizers launch additional strikes or protests at the airport.


Advice for Travelers

Visitors to Hong Kong should avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, and increase caution around police stations and other government facilities where unannounced demonstrations may occur. Visitors should continue to monitor relevant political developments, especially additional calls for general strikes. Make allowances for business and transport disruptions if general strikes are held. 


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