Global Affairs Canada has issued a travel advisory for Canadians travelling to Hong Kong, warning them to use a “high degree of caution” due to a potential for violence as protests continue to swell in the city.
The federal government said there are “identifiable safety and security concerns” in the city that could “change with little notice.”
“The government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously. We continue to closely monitor the situation in Hong Kong in light of the recent demonstrations and violence,” the federal government said in a statement to Global News.
“This situation is of particular concern for Canada in light of the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong.”
For the 10th consecutive week, pro-democracy protests have escalated in the city. The demonstrations returned to the Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, where protesters staged a sit-in at the arrival and departure halls, holding signs telling visitors “there are no rioters, only tyranny.” Others passed out pamphlets warning visitors of the heavy tear gas used against them by Hong Kong police.
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Canada‘s travel advisory follows a number of other countries issuing warnings in recent days, including the United States, Australia, Ireland, Britain and Japan. In total, 22 countries and regions have issued an advisory to their citizens.
“The security situation around large gatherings could change quickly. Acts of violence occur, especially at night. Some have resulted in serious injuries,” the government said.
“Clashes between security forces and demonstrators have taken place. Local authorities have used tear gas and other crowd-control measures.”
Hong Kong’s government concedes that road blockages and confrontations between police and protests have caused inconveniences in certain areas.
More protests are expected this weekend, including at the airport.
The government urges those in the city to monitor local media for information and advice on upcoming demonstrations and, if possible, avoid areas where large-scale protests are unfolding. It also recommends Canadians in Hong Kong follow the instructions of local authorities.
Road closures and traffic disruptions should be expected and transit routes, including the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal, could be impacted.
“Although many protest sites are made public in advance, authorized and unauthorized demonstrations can take place with little to no notice,” the government’s website reads.
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A statement from Hong Kong’s government in response to the travel safety warnings said it was working with the city’s travel industry to minimize disruptions.
“All stand ready to welcome and assist visitors to Hong Kong at any time,” it reads.
The protests were sparked in response to proposed extradition legislation that could have seen criminal suspects sent to mainland China. Though it never became law, the protests have turned into a broader call for democratic reforms and for the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Protesters also want an investigation into the alleged abuse of force by Hong Kong police in recent weeks.
On Friday, Hong Kong’s embattled leader expressed concern about what the political crisis is doing to business, retail sales and tourism numbers.
“I am, indeed, very worried about this situation, and that’s why I appeal for calm, calmness and rationality to help us to overcome this situation,” she said.
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
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