It felt appropriate that the final travel warning post from us for now should be about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. (ICYMI, Safe Travels Magazine is for sale – more info here.)

The situation in the territory remains volatile, as protestors continue to demand freedoms and China steps up its response. There have been reports of the police – who have been criticised their various reactions in recent weeks – have been testing water cannons:

Don’t wear black or white

Many of the protestors have been wearing black to show, and the colour is now associated with the demonstrations. At least 45 protestors were hospitalised in mid-July when a group wearing white tshirts swarmed Yuen Long metro station and started beating passengers wearing black. From the South China Morning Post

Trains had been bypassing the station since 11pm because of a previous rampage by the same or a similar mob of men in white T-shirts attacking protesters returning from another anti-government mass march against the now-suspended extradition bill in the heart of the city’s financial district.

While protesters in Wan Chai, Central and Sheung Wan were facing off with riot police, at around 10.30pm, the attackers ran onto trains, using rods to attack passengers and go after anyone wearing black, witnesses said.

Please click through to read more.

Recurring flashpoints

The following locations have been flashpoints in the past and could be the location of further disturbances in the future –

  • Causeway Bay
  • Victoria Park
  • Wan Chai
  • Admiralty
  • Central Government Complex of Hong Kong SAR
  • Tamar Park
  • Central
  • Court of Final Appeal
  • Yueng Long
  • Sheung Wan
  • Hong Kong International Airport

If you are looking for a background briefing on the current situation, Talking Politics recently had a very interesting podcast episode that explored the protests, their history and the demands of those involved.

Travel advice

If you are already in or will be in Hong Kong, please consider the following –

  • Avoid demonstrations and large crowds. 
  • Be aware that the protests can spread quickly and that people have been targeted for assault outside of immediate protest areas, because it was suspected they were involved in protests.
  • Monitor local media – this will indicate if unsanctioned protests are likely to take place. 
  • Be aware that transport and other services are likely to be disrupted, and allow for extra time in any travel plans. Where possible, minimise travel.
  • Avoid wearing white or black – these colours have been associated with different groups, and could make you a target. 
  • Review your travel risk management plan, so you know what to do in an emergency.
  • Make sure you have the contact information of your travel insurance company and your local embassy stored in a secure offline location.
  • Keep your devices charged.
  • Check in with friends and family.
  • If something does happen, contact the local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.

Here is health advice from the International News Safety Institute on how to protect yourself from tear gas.

Official travel advice

Links to travel advice on visiting Hong Kong from the following governments –

Please note that the travel advice varies – it is worth reading them all and reaching your own conclusion.

Sign up to the travel support services offered by your nation, and consider following the services above and your local embassy on Twitter. Enable push notifications for these services to stay up to date with the latest developments.

From the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office –

In recent weeks, several large-scale political demonstrations have taken place on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and various suburbs in the New Territories. Clashes have taken place between police and protesters following otherwise peaceful protest activities. These have involved significant violence.

Reports indicate demonstrations are likely to continue to take place in Hong Kong. These protests usually happen on weekends, with the more violent clashes happening at night, though protests may take place with little or no notice at any time, on any day. You should be prepared that the situation around protests and public gatherings could change quickly. Some protests, including those over the weekend of 27-28 July, lacked police authorisation. These unauthorised protests have a higher degree of unpredictability, and when compared with authorised protests have been met previously with a more rapid and more severe police response. You should therefore exercise a particular degree of vigilance in the vicinity of these unauthorised protests. Local media reporting clearly identifies which protests are unauthorised.

Activities related to protests have spilled over into large public spaces, including shopping centres, housing estates and metro (“MTR”) stations, on the margins of recent protest routes. Protests can deviate from planned routes and there is the possibility of injuries among those accidentally caught up in events. Demonstrations may lead to sections of the city being closed off and public transport being significantly affected. In recent protests, bus routes, MTR stations and the Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal have temporarily suspended operations without warning.

If you’re in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and move away quickly to a safe place if there are signs of disorder.

On 20 July, Hong Kong police announced that they had seized a quantity of explosives and offensive weapons in the New Territories and that they were still investigating the motive.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Hong Kong, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism

Please click through here for the rest of the advisory, including contact information.

Further news and information

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