Civil unrest in Hong Kong has caused the U.S. and a number of other countries to issue travel advisories. On August 12 and 13, protesters advocating for democracy in China occupied the Hong Kong Airport, causing authorities to cancel all departures and delay arriving planes.
The United States government advises citizens to be on high-alert if they choose to travel to Hong Kong at this time. This follows similar statements from other countries including South Korea, Australia and The United Kingdom. Taiwan went further, advising travelers to cancel any unnecessary travel to Hong Kong. All of the advisories and news coverage agree that the protests so far have been largely peaceful, but have the potential to turn violent very quickly. The current airport protest in particular has seen several violent outbreaks.
The protests in Hong Kong began on June 9, in response to a bill that would give mainland China the right to extradite criminals from Hong Kong to be tried by mainland courts which are controlled by the Communist Party of China. Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997 when it became a “special administrative region” of China. Due in part to this legacy, the citizens of Hong Kong hold a pro-democracy protest annually in July. This event was incorporated into the ongoing protests this year. Opponents of the bill worry that it will allow mainland China to detain and extradite political dissenters as well as internationally wanted criminals.
On August 12, 2019, protesters occupied the Hong Kong International Airport, grounding flights and sparking conflict with police. Riot police officers were called and violence has broken out more than once.
If you travel to Hong Kong in the near future, your plans are likely to be changed by circumstances beyond your control. Travel insurance, in particular trip insurance, is a good way to protect yourself from worries and fees if you are forced to change your travel plans quickly. Trip insurance gives you options if your trip is delayed or interrupted, you can also purchase “cancel for any reason” coverage in case you simply do not feel safe traveling at this time.