Asia-Pacific

Australians warned to exercise high-degree of caution in Hong Kong amid 'unpredictable protests'

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The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have updated its travel advice for Hong Kong amid increasingly violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters but stopped short of cautioning Australians against travelling to the territory.

Australians have been warned to exercise a "high degree of caution" when travelling to Hong Kong as pro-democracy protests move towards their third month with no signs of slowing. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued updated travel advice on Tuesday, warning that the protests have become "more unpredictable and are expected to continue".

"There is a risk of violent confrontation between protestors and police, or criminally-linked individuals, particularly at unauthorised protests," the update read.

Protesters fight with a group of men wielding wooden poles on a Hong Kong street.
Protesters fight with a group of men wielding wooden poles on a Hong Kong street.
AP

DFAT said unauthorised protests were now being met with a "more rapid and severe" police response, including the use of tear-gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and water cannons.

Australians have not yet been warned to reconsider their need to travel to Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, China warned that "those who play with fire will perish by it", as tensions between the protesters and government reached a fever pitch.

Policemen in riot gears arrive after residents and protesters gather outside a police station to demand police release a student leader.
Policemen in riot gears arrive after residents and protesters gather outside a police station to demand police release a student leader.
AP

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, spokesperson for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Yang Guang said the protests had "severely impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss".

"Don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness... Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government," he said.

Public transport, flights and traffic have also been severely affected by the mass action, as protesters blocked major roads, bringing the city to a standstill.

Police arrest a man during a face off at Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong.
Police arrest a man during a face off at Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong.
AP

More than 150 flights were cancelled as airport staff joined in on the protests. 

Videos posted online on Tuesday showed protesters using traffic cones to contain tear gas canisters being used by police. The protesters, wearing gas masks and gloves, quickly pounce on the grenade, placing the cone over it and pouring water through the hole in the top. 

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Hong Kong 'on the brink' leaders warn as unrest, clashes spread
Hong Kong 'on the brink' leaders warn as unrest, clashes spread

Police confirmed that more than 500 people have been arrested since the protests began in June.

The protests began in response to Beijing's plans to impose tough laws in the semi-autonomous state that would have allowed it to extradite Hong Kong residents to the mainland.

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