August 07, 2019

Pro-democracy activists and labor groups, including the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, have called for general strikes and mass rallies in Hong Kong. Organizers have called the protests to demand that the government formally withdraw a bill amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and establish an independent commission to investigate police violence, among other demands. Participation in a planned strike on August 5 was significant; shutting down transportation systems and forcing flight cancellations.

Intelligence analyst for the Asia-Pacific region, Brendan O'Reilly, told The Washington Post that "tourists have generally not been caught up in the activity, though at least one South Korean national who was demonstrating has been arrested." He said "many demonstrations are announced in advance by mainstream activist groups, but smaller and more violent protests have also cropped up, especially around police stations."

While the government has suspended the controversial extradition law amendments, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has not formally withdrawn the bill. Her government has also failed to meet other protester demands, especially the creation of an independent commission to investigate clashes between protesters and police. The extradition law bill has become a lightning rod for discontent among some segments of Hong Kong society that believe that Beijing's influence is eroding the territory's freedoms. The government maintains that the reforms are necessary to close loopholes in Hong Kong's existing extradition treaties and to prevent the city from acting as a haven for mainland Chinese criminals. Opponents of the proposed changes to the extradition law fear the amendments would allow human rights abuses and undermine Hong Kong's judicial system. The administration's perceived inflexibility, and the government's view that the protest movement is being pushed forward by radical antigovernment forces, suggests that major compromises are unlikely, and the protests could continue indefinitely.

Travelers and those in Hong Kong should avoid protest sites as a precaution due to the threat of localized clashes. It is advised to immediately leave the area and shelter in a secure, nongovernment building if violence erupts. O’Reilly said "In addition to avoiding protest locations, visitors might want to reassess their clothing choices to avoid getting caught up in the clashes." One precaution is to avoid wearing black T-shirts, "which have been worn by those protesting the extradition bill, or white T-shirts, which have been adopted by counter-protesters. " Additional strikes are likely to prompt business disruptions and widespread disruptions to transport services.

Read the full article from The Washington Post.