HONG KONG: The United States raised its travel advisory level for Hong Kong due to what it termed as “civil unrest” after months of street protests that turned violent at times.
The advisory was raised to level two on a four-point scale which meant travellers were urged to “exercise increased caution”.
The protests in the Asian financial hub began with opposition to a now-suspended extradition law and have evolved into a direct challenge to the government and calls for full democracy.
“Since June 2019, several large-scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong,” said the advisory, which was posted on the US Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau’s website on Wednesday (Aug 7).
“Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes.
“The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighbourhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies.
“These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue,” it said.
People attend a protest in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Aug 3, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)
Australia also warned its travellers in an updated advisory on Wednesday.
The protests pose the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Xi is also grappling with a debilitating trade war with the United States and a slowing economy.
Hong Kong is facing its worst crisis since it returned to China from British rule in 1997 because of the protests, the head of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office said on Wednesday.
More protests are planned across the city this weekend, starting on Friday with demonstrators planning to rally at the city’s international airport.