Asia-Pacific

Planned airport protests see international travel warnings to Hong Kong upgraded

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Toronto last Sunday afternoon, holding large posters. Source: www.thestar.com

The US has become the latest country to upgrade its Hong Kong travel warnings after countries including Australia, Britain, Ireland, Singapore and Japan issued heightened travel warnings earlier this week.

Washington has warned US citizens to "exercise increased caution" when travelling to Hong Kong, as protesters announced three days of new demonstrations at the city's airport.

The financial hub has been rocked by two months of unrest, initially triggered by opposition to a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

The demonstrations have evolved into a wider movement for democratic reform that has seriously disrupted the city with sometimes violent protests.

The Australian Government Smart Traveller site issued a warning of its own on Tuesday.

"We have raised our advice level for Hong Kong: we now recommend you 'exercise a high degree of caution'," the website warned.

"Protests have become more unpredictable and are expected to continue. Tourist areas have been affected." 

Tuesday's warning on the Australian website.
Tuesday's warning on the Australian website.
Smarttraveeler.gov.au

On Thursday, the US State Department also warned its citizens to "exercise increased caution," upgrading its previous advice to "exercise normal precautions".

The warning notes that demonstrations in the city have been mostly peaceful "but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes."

"These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue," the advice adds.

The US warning comes after countries including Australia, Britain, Ireland, Singapore and Japan issued heightened travel warnings for Hong Kong.

Images of clashes between masked protesters and police firing tear gas in Hong Kong's streets have made global headlines, and on Tuesday China gave its sternest warning yet to the pro-democracy demonstrators.

But the protests are expected to continue, with demonstrators planning three days of rallies at the city's airport from Friday afternoon.

Riot police officers fire teargas during clashes with protestors in the Wong Tai Sin District district of Hong Kong, on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. A top Chinese official overseeing Hong Kong affairs said on Wednesday that the city was experiencing its worst cr
Riot police officers fire teargas during clashes with protestors in the Wong Tai Sin District district of Hong Kong, on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019.
NYTNS

On Monday, a general strike called by protesters saw more than 160 flights cancelled and transport in the city paralysed.

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the planned airport rallies.

On 26 July, protesters gathered at the airport for a demonstration, sharing their message with tourists arriving at the busy transport hub. The protest was peaceful and did not interrupt flights.

But Cathay Pacific has seen bookings drop as the crisis continues in Hong Kong, chairman John Slosar warned Wednesday.

"The protests in Hong Kong reduced inbound passenger traffic in July and are adversely impacting forward bookings," he said.

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