Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Monday have seen more than 200 flights cancelled at its international airport, as coordinated strikes brought the destination to a standstill.
This came after protests began in June in opposition to an extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of suspects in criminal cases to mainland China. The protests have, however, become a broader demonstration by the people of Hong Kong against the authority of Beijing.
Entering into its ninth consecutive week, the pro-democracy Hong Kong protests yesterday reached what multiple commentators have called the biggest and most widespread day of protests yet.
Protests reportedly took place in seven districts across Hong Kong: Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tseun Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po. Confrontations between police and protesters resulted in tear gas being fired in five districts, and 24 people were reportedly injured.
In reports published by CNN during its live-coverage of the protests, the news broadcaster said protesters had started the day by blocking subway doors across the territory for the third time in as many weeks, sending Hong Kong’s transport system into chaos.
This came in lieu of further coordinated protests across the territory, with Hong Kong International Airport targeted, among other regions. CNN put the number of flights grounded due to a sit-in protest at the airport at 224.
More than 2,300 aviation workers reportedly took part in the strike, including 1,200 Cathay Pacific cabin crew and pilots, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, as reported by CNN.
In a media address, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said of the protests on Monday that Hong Kong was on “the verge of a very dangerous situation”.
According to BBC News,Lam said the protesters’ actions had challenged the principle of “one country, two systems” and the extra freedoms granted to Hong Kong when it was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is advising travel professionals that, following yesterday’s territory-wide strike, the destination has returned to normal.
“Hong Kong [remains] a welcoming city for travellers,” a spokesperson for HKTB told Travel Weekly.
“Tourist activities in Hong Kong continue as usual. Hotel and tourism operators stand ready to provide necessary assistance to minimise disruption to travellers in case of any public events taking place.”
Smartraveller advised travellers on Friday that “the risk of confrontation” between protesters and police or “criminally-linked individuals” is increasing, particularly at “unauthorised protests”.
“The risk is greater on weekends and in the evening,” the update said.
“While we continue to advise Australians, to ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ in Hong Kong, we strongly recommend you avoid large public gatherings, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.”
DFAT followed up on Monday morning with an announcement that large-scale protests were expected that day.
“Avoid protests, monitor the local media and follow the advice of local authorities. Our travel advice level has not changed – exercise normal safety precautions in Hong Kong.”