If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news you may be aware of a recent slew of riots that have been sweeping through the city of Hong Kong. The riots began as an extradition bill was introduced to the Hong Kong legislature which would allow the government of mainland China to extradite convicts from Hong Kong to the mainland. The reason why this issue is so hot is because of the implications it poses for Hong Kong’s future sovereignty.
For those not in the know of how Hong Kong functions and operates, the city used to belong to the United Kingdom. Even to this day many in Hong Kong still speak English, and entry does not require a visa which makes it a great gateway to visit Asia for the first time without going through all the rigmarole usually involved in a trip to mainland China. In 1997 the government of the UK handed over the ownership of the island to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with the exception that Hong Kong would be allowed to self govern itself for the next 50 years. This means that in 2047 the border between mainland China and Hong Kong will be dissolved and the city will be expected to fully integrate into mainland Chinese culture and politics.
What Could This Imply For Residents of Hong Kong
2047 may seem like a far off date, however some of those who dwell in Hong Kong, we’ll call them Hong Kongers, have been noticing the gradual shift away from their generally Democratic system of governance for sometime now. The extradition bill to many Hong Kongers seems like another step towards their city’s independence being full striped away as intended. The bill would naturally allow the PRC to try criminals in their own court rather than allowing Hong Kong’s judicial system to bear the burden. This is a major issue as the PRC’s judicial system is often viewed as corrupt, unjust, and often cruel to those who find themselves accused. Just as recently as 2013, mainland China’s conviction rate was 99.9 percent, which means that if you stood accused of a crime you’d more than likely have to face the sentence.
What’s more is that certain things are legal in Hong Kong are illegal just a few miles away in Shenzhen. Things such as distribution of books or media which may disrupt the harmony or trust in the Communist Party, novels such as Animal Farm are banned. This means that those who operate book stores in Hong Kong are under close scrutiny from mainland officials, especially with recent attempts to smuggle books to mainland China.
What Does This Mean for You?
With all this historic context in mind you can see why the riots have involved hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of Hong Kongers have been marching in protest. However, what does this mean for those traveling to Hong Kong or mainland China? Well, be wary and stay out of the way of any protests if you are already in Hong Kong. While the protesters won’t do any harm to you, the real threat is being mistaken as a protestor when a fight breaks out between rioters and police or even worse masked gangs who have been targeting rioters.
If you plan on traveling to Hong Kong be wary that protests have taken to the airport in some cases lead to flight cancellations. It may be wiser simply to enter Hong Kong via the bridge between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. While this may require that you obtain a Chinese Visa, it does let you skip out on the possibility of losing a flight. Be warned however, military convoys do seem to be traveling via the road from Shenzhen to Hong Kong frequently nowadays, and military demonstrations are common place as shows of force by the PRC. During days when demonstrations are occurring, expect some major streets to be closed which may slow down commute times.
Ultimately the safest thing to do would be to avoid going to Hong Kong all together. If you plan on going despite the ongoing situation then exhibit great caution with where and when you go out. Keep in mind that governments the world over have been issuing notices to their citizens to avoid protest demonstration locations. These locations are the most likely place where you can expect to find danger during a stay in Hong Kong. If you can manage avoided marches, protests, demonstrations, or any other political event happening, you should be able to enjoy your trip unscathed. We cannot recommend participating in the riots based on the treatment protesters have been receiving by Hong Kong police.
Alternatives to Hong Kong
While the protests may be slowing down travel, don’t let that stop you from visiting the rest of Asia. If you want a city in a similar flavor to Hong Kong without having to worry about a random march blocking your passage to that coffee shop you just heard about, remember that Macao isn’t far off and also does not require a visa for entry. Even mainland China is relatively unaffected by the riots, aside from the military convoys you may see here and there heading south.
If you do plan on heading to China you’ll be expected to acquire a China Visa which can take at minimum 4 days to acquire, this can be a pretty complicated process if you’ve never applied for a visa before, but let us worry about that. When you work with China Visa Department, we guarantee fast and professional handling of your China visa application. Not only will we make sure that your application is delivered securely to the Consulate of your jurisdiction, we’ll keep an ear to things to make sure the information you get is as up-to-date as can be.
Regardless of whether you visit Hong Kong or mainland China, you’ll be needing a passport in order to leave the country and eventually reenter. If you don’t already have a passport and plan to travel soon, now is the time to apply. With The Passport Office you can have a new passport in your hands in as little as two business days. We’ll walk you through all necessary steps required as well as providing you with our expert consulting which