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Hong Kong Civil Unrest - Survival Guide Q&As (Flame Free)

Hong Kong Civil Unrest - Survival Guide Q&As (Flame Free)

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Old May 23, 20, 3:28 pm   -   Wikipost
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A. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1. What is the purpose of this thread?

Ans: This thread is intended to help for FTers in navigating and resolving any potential issues related to their trips to Hong Kong, in light of to ongoing prolonged civil unrest in Hong Kong. The information on this guide is based on non-biased publicly available facts and data.While editing will be made as necessary to reflect the most updated development, please keep in mind that this guide is non-exhaustive. You should take any as necessary.

Declaimer– this thread is not intended to discuss about the civil unrest. FT has designated threads for the discussion of the civil unrest.

2. What should I know about the situation?

Ans: To make things simple, the civil unrest basically started from an anti-government movement against a proposed amendment to the existing extradition law due to an alleged murder occurred in Taiwan. Then it evolved to a conflict between the police and the protestors, as well as between pro-government/bill amendment supporters vs. anti-government/bill amendment supporters.

3. Does the civil unrest happen 24/7 or else?

Ans: Based on historical development, generally the unrest starts from a demonstration/protest, which usually happens after 12 pm. Then the confrontations start a few hours after the demonstration/protest and lasts passing midnight.

In most of the cases, non-business days are considered high risk days for the unrest. However, if there are any provocations, unrest can still occur on a business day within hours of the purported provocation.


B. PRE-TRAVEL ARRANGEMENT

1. Should I go to Hong Kong now? What about any future trips?

Ans: It is entirely up to you. So far, only Singapore has issued a travel alerts/advisory urging against non-essential travel to Hong Kong.

2. What recourse do I have if I want to change my trip to Hong Kong?

Ans: So far, there is no travel waiver/exception in place for Hong Kong. So the travel provider's standard cancellation policies will apply and most likely you will have to pay a penalty or change fee. However, there are reports of some exceptions have been made. This is straight YMMV situation for now. You will have to discuss your travel providers (airlines, hotel, TAs, etc.) for detail.

3. I heard that HKG has been affected by the unrest. Should I be worry if I plan to transit at HKG only?

Ans: It is entirely up to you.

Since the shut down on August 13, 2019, HKG has significantly tightened its security and heavily restricted its access. The High Court of Hong Kong has imposed an injunction against any non-legitimate use of the airport. In theory, there is no reason why you can't transit at HKG without issue.

However, keep in mind that airport/airline employees do not generally live/stay nearby. Their access may/can be impacted by the unrest, resulting a domino effect that eventually impact flight operations at HKG.

4. Which hotel should I stay?

Ans: It is entirely up to you. Because of how hotels in Hong Kong are positioned, the majority of hotels are nearby hot spots (see below) and have been impacted by the civil unrest. There are only limited options away from the hot spots. Many of those are not easily accessible by public transportation and are usually more expensive in comparison to hotels in similar levels. Use your own judgment to determine which one would work best or the least worst for you.

5. How about travel insurance (including benefits offered by credit cards)?

Ans: Because Hong Kong SAR Government has claimed in several occasions that certain events during the unrest as riots, insurers may exclude coverage as a result. Make sure you review necessary terms and conditions and contact your insurer/benefit administrator first.

6. I would like to go to Macau/Mainland China as well. Do I have anything to concern?

Ans: Yes. Since the civil unrest, both Macau/Mainland China has tightened its border security. It has been reported that many have been subjected to additional questioning. Some have been denied entries, and even detained.


C. IN HONG KONG

1. How can I avoid troubles?

Ans: You can avoid troubles by:
a. Avoid any related discussions in any public settings within the Greater China areas (Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, and Taiwan)
b. Avoid going to any hot spots (See below)
c. Avoid taking pictures or video of the protests/confrontations/etc.
d. Avoid wearing any top clothing either in black or white in colour
e. Be vigilant about your surroundings
f. Leave at once when situations are deteriorating, i.e. when you see police personnel in riot gears are present nearby, or there is a massive gathering nearby

Situations can deteriorate in seconds. Please process with extreme cautions and do not wait until the last minutes before out of control.

2. Where are the hot spots?

Ans: Based on historical development of this unrest, the following non-exhaustive points of interests have experienced either major conflicts or damages:
a. Best Mart 360
b. China Travel Service's Entry Permit Service Centres
c. Chinese* banks' facilities - ATMs and/or branches
d. Government buildings named "Government Offices"
e. HSBC Group# banks' facilities - ATMs and/or branches
f. Maxim's operated locations
f. MTR facilities - MTR (including Airport Express) Stations, Light Rail Stations and Bus Stops, Hong Kong West Kowloon (CRH) Station, Malls, etc.
g. Police stations
h. Retail networks of Sino United Publishing (Holdings) Limited, including, but not limited to Chung Hwa Book Company, Joint Publishing and the Commercial Press
i. UGC-funded universities
j. Yoshinoya
k. VTC Member Institutions
l. Immediate vicinity (Within 5-15 minutes of walking distance) of the locations above

In addition, Central Government Complex and Hong Kong Liaison Office have experienced multiple confrontations. When both of the British Consulate General and the U.S. Consulate General are not impacted, they have frequently become demonstration destinations.

Unless necessary, these areas should be avoided as much as practically possible.

* Based on self-identification, including Bank of China (Hong Kong), Bank of Communications, China Construction Bank (Asia), China CITIC Bank, Chiyu Banking Corporation Limited, Chong Hing Bank, CMB Wing Lung Bank, ICBC (Asia), and Nanyang Commercial Bank.

# Hang Seng Bank and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

3. How bad is the traffic? How can I get around Hong Kong?

Ans: MTR has been frequently targeted during the civil unrest, which practically paralyzed the entire system. MTR may/can suspended service without prior notices, and this happened in the past. This includes Airport Express service. Please plan carefully if you intend to travel with MTR (including Airport Express). If you intend to use the in-town check-in at Hong Kong/Kowloon Station, please make sure that Airport Express is in service and you are able to reach the station. Please follow Twitter MTR Service Update (@mtrupdate)*.

At this moment, public bus is the most reliable form of public transportation, even routes may be cancelled or diverted. Each of the major bus operators has its own smartphone Apps (KMB/LWB - APP 1933 - KMB/LWB, First Bus/Citybus - CitybusNWFB). Make sure that you have a smartphone with mobile data when you are in Hong Kong. Those Apps can help you navigate within Hong Kong, providing live update to current service status.

* MTR Mobile is MTR's official Mobile App. However, the App has often been criticized for its slow update than this unofficial Twitter.

4. What are the police using?

Ans: During the civil unrest, the Hong Kong Police Force has utilized the following non-exhaustive weaponry:

a. Lethal Weapons
- SIG Sauer P250
- Smith & Wesson Model 10

b. Non-lethal Weapons
- Baton
- Beanbag rounds, delivered by Remington Model 870
- Pepper spray, delivered by canister, water tank spray, pepper-spray projectile (including PepperBall VKS), and/or water cannon
- Rubber bullet rounds, delivered by Remington Model 870 or Federal Riot Gun
- Specialized Crowd Management Vehicle, commonly known as water cannon, delivering special dyed chemical water with tear gas substance
- Sponge rounds, delivered by Pacem Defense ALS Bore Thunder Launcher Adapter
- Tactical light
- Tear Gas, delivered by grenade or Federal Riot Gun

The following are safety data sheet of some of the above weaponry:
- NonLethal Technologies
- Pacem Defense ALS
- PepperBall

Note - the above information is provided for information only.

5. I see from the news that many have protective gears. Should I be prepared as well?

Ans: Preferably not a good idea.

Protective gears may/can be subject to import/export control. You could get serious trouble in found. Also – while unofficially, it seems that the police is focusing those who have protective gears. So having protective gears on can become a case of mistaken identity. Beside, the effect of protective gears are very limited in protection, as they are designed for industrial use only, but not withstanding weaponry.

6. What else can I do?

Ans: a) Make sure you have to your country’s emergency contact (international and local consulate) ready. For other countries which have their consulates in Macau, check with their consulates respectively. For Portugal, please ensure you have the emergency contact of another consulate of an EU member state located in Hong Kong.

Here is a list of contacts of all consulates serving Hong Kong.

b) Because the situation can change very rapidly, especially MTR closures, a smartphone with mobile data is essential when moving about. Having a smartphone App with live alert from a local media will also help you to avoid areas with trouble.

c) Be mindful of your actions. Due to the tightened tensions, an innocent move can be seen as a provocation. Always remember - Safety first.

d) Be extremely mindful about the content of your mobile devices. Any contents related to the unrest may/can possibly cause you troubles, Hong Kong and/or elsewhere.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 3:03 am
  #91  
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
Anyone who uber-confidently predicts what's going to be happening the next few months in Hong Kong is either very brave or very dumb. Nobody but nobody knows.
Anybody who uber-confidently predicts what was going to be happening the next few months in NYC is also either very brave or very dumb. Nobody knows the future.

Doesn't mean one can't make generalization based on what is exceedingly unlikely.

HK could also get hit by a comet blowing the whole city to pieces. You can't say for sure that it won't happen, so maybe we should advise people to avoid HK due to the comet-related risks.

Oh and while we're at it, nobody should visit in summer because it's typhoon season.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 3:38 pm
  #92  
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Originally Posted by rjh View Post
Ok, based on two recent transit only experiences I believe this text is stronger than needed. My proposal:
8. TRANSIT HKG at AIRPORT AIRSIDE:
Generally not an issue and all services, including shops and lounges, are operating normally while remaining airside. No additional security. No need to go landside.

There has been disruption in the past and it may happen again, but as of this writing there is no reason to avoid HKG for transit, while airside only.
Originally Posted by kevincrumbs View Post
I think for airside even the word "generally" gives an impression that while rare, something may/could happen. The reality is that nothing has happened to disrupt airside to airside connections, as far as I'm aware. IMHO dropping "generally" is a better reflection of the situation.
Considered. But I don't believe the current language is stronger than needed.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 9:16 am
  #93  
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
Considered. But I don't believe the current language is stronger than needed.
I just noticed that there are two items numbered "8." This refers to the 2nd about transit.

My concern is that the the current language is misleading and not consistent with current experience. I personally have four data points. I saw many others in the transit queue having a normal experience. I didn't hang around to count, but obviously 1000s are transiting normally each day.

It is entirely up to you.
Always the case. Suggest deleting.

Since the shut down on August 13, 2019, HKG has significantly tightened its security and heavily restricted its access. The High Court of Hong Kong has imposed an injunction against any non-legitimate use of the airport. In theory, there is no reason why you can't transit at HKG without issue.

However, keep in mind that airport/airline employees do not generally live/stay nearby. Their access may/can be impacted by the unrest, resulting a domino effect that eventually impact flight operations at HKG.
People considering HKG as a airside transit point only, as I was, need information consistent with actual experience to make practical decisions.

For months there has not been an airside interruption. The concern expressed in the current language, while theoretical possible, is at odds with facts on the ground. Restaurants, shops, and lounges are operating normally. The strong probability is that airside transit won't be affected and the language here, to be useful, should reflect that.

I'm certainly open to counter arguments, but right now I don't know what they would be.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 2:30 pm
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Well, the whole HK debacle began after I had done my routing and booking, so I'm totally coincidentally going to be doing HKG-SZX by land next Sunday. And since my flight has today been changed to another one, I'm tempted to push for a faster transit between the airports, via the landborder, eventhough it's going to be on a Sunday.

So the question is how tight can I keep my transit time from gate to gate as a foreigner (HK visa free, CN with visa) in the current circumstances? If I would choose a more convenient connection, I would have 4:15 between my flights and I only have carry-on. Otherwise I will have some 9,5 hrs, which is pretty much for getting from HKG to SZX, taken there's probably not a meaningful lounge at SZX. OTOH, I could probably spend that time in downtown Shenzhen doing something.

This fast routing seems to be doable in terms of current MTR operations, but not sure if it's doable on a Sunday afternoon? First MTR Airport Express from HKG to West Kowloon station. Then XRL to Futian and change to the metroline 11 for SZX. As there's no suitable CKS catamaran departing around my arrival at HKG and a shared minibus ride feels a bit of an unwarranted expenditure (...says a cheapskate inbound in C ), the fastest possible public transport by land feels like the best bet. Or would perhaps that shared minibus be the only viable option to push for a transit within that assumed timeframe of 4:15?

Many thanks in advance for any constructive input you may have!
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Old Nov 9, 19, 4:08 pm
  #95  
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Originally Posted by rjh View Post
My concern is that the the current language is misleading and not consistent with current experience. I personally have four data points. I saw many others in the transit queue having a normal experience. I didn't hang around to count, but obviously 1000s are transiting normally each day.
The Q&As are not constructed based on personal experience, but unbiased news information. The problem with experience is it is always biased.

I am not saying you are wrong with your experience. And your experience can turn out very true that there would be no interruption after all. However, in light of the heavy security and the court injunction, one can't logically believe the possibility is not there. So as a balancing act, I simply present the fact, not opinion about HKG operations.

Originally Posted by rjh View Post
Always the case. Suggest deleting.
You will be surprised that even something is obvious, it is not necessary that everyone knows.

Originally Posted by Flying Yazata View Post
This fast routing seems to be doable in terms of current MTR operations, but not sure if it's doable on a Sunday afternoon? First MTR Airport Express from HKG to West Kowloon station. Then XRL to Futian and change to the metroline 11 for SZX. As there's no suitable CKS catamaran departing around my arrival at HKG and a shared minibus ride feels a bit of an unwarranted expenditure (...says a cheapskate inbound in C ), the fastest possible public transport by land feels like the best bet. Or would perhaps that shared minibus be the only viable option to push for a transit within that assumed timeframe of 4:15?
Even without the civil unrest, this is one of the worst way to transit, as Kowloon Station is not exactly near the CRH station.

What you should do is go to T2 for the Mainland Coaches. Because they travel on major expressways, they are not usually affected by the unrest.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 5:02 pm
  #96  
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The airport grounds and the Airport Express right-of-way have not been sealed off. The sort of folks who are doing the sort of things being done in Mongkok are perfectly capable of figuring out how to bring trouble back to Lantau if they ever decide to go that route again. Let's not talk details. We should accept that risk remains, including risk of cancelled flights for transit passengers, so long as there's trouble in Hong Kong.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 5:30 pm
  #97  
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
The airport grounds and the Airport Express right-of-way have not been sealed off. The sort of folks who are doing the sort of things being done in Mongkok are perfectly capable of figuring out how to bring trouble back to Lantau if they ever decide to go that route again. Let's not talk details. We should accept that risk remains, including risk of cancelled flights for transit passengers, so long as there's trouble in Hong Kong.
You are correct that it is possible for a major airport disruptions to happen but do you think it is probable?
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Old Nov 9, 19, 5:51 pm
  #98  
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What is "probable"? Further trouble on Lantau is well within the realm of possibility. Who can possibly say anything more.

To repeat once again, the protests have no leadership. No votes are taken. Things just happen. A small group not a mob could interfere with flights. Senseless, but look at what is happening elsewhere in the city.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 6:16 pm
  #99  
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Originally Posted by tentseller View Post
You are correct that it is possible for a major airport disruptions to happen but do you think it is probable?
It has happened before. So it’s probability is definitely higher than something that has never happened before.
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Old Nov 10, 19, 1:06 am
  #100  
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Originally Posted by Flying Yazata View Post
Well, the whole HK debacle began after I had done my routing and booking, so I'm totally coincidentally going to be doing HKG-SZX by land next Sunday. And since my flight has today been changed to another one, I'm tempted to push for a faster transit between the airports, via the landborder, eventhough it's going to be on a Sunday.

So the question is how tight can I keep my transit time from gate to gate as a foreigner (HK visa free, CN with visa) in the current circumstances? If I would choose a more convenient connection, I would have 4:15 between my flights and I only have carry-on. Otherwise I will have some 9,5 hrs, which is pretty much for getting from HKG to SZX, taken there's probably not a meaningful lounge at SZX. OTOH, I could probably spend that time in downtown Shenzhen doing something.

This fast routing seems to be doable in terms of current MTR operations, but not sure if it's doable on a Sunday afternoon? First MTR Airport Express from HKG to West Kowloon station. Then XRL to Futian and change to the metroline 11 for SZX. As there's no suitable CKS catamaran departing around my arrival at HKG and a shared minibus ride feels a bit of an unwarranted expenditure (...says a cheapskate inbound in C ), the fastest possible public transport by land feels like the best bet. Or would perhaps that shared minibus be the only viable option to push for a transit within that assumed timeframe of 4:15?

Many thanks in advance for any constructive input you may have!
Why not take one of the ferries from the SkyPier at HKIA?
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Old Nov 10, 19, 1:09 am
  #101  
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
The airport grounds and the Airport Express right-of-way have not been sealed off. The sort of folks who are doing the sort of things being done in Mongkok are perfectly capable of figuring out how to bring trouble back to Lantau if they ever decide to go that route again. Let's not talk details. We should accept that risk remains, including risk of cancelled flights for transit passengers, so long as there's trouble in Hong Kong.
It's equally possible for something like this to happen at SFO, and yet we don't see a "San Francisco survival guide" talking about the potential risk for transit disruption due to airport unrest. It's about equally as likely.

This guide is supposed to be objective unbiased information, not fear mongering — that's the media's job.

The risk of disruption is not commensurate with the strong wording of the warning.
rjh, tentseller and :D! like this.
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Old Nov 10, 19, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
What you should do is go to T2 for the Mainland Coaches. Because they travel on major expressways, they are not usually affected by the unrest.
Hmm, how much time should I reserve for that option?

Originally Posted by helvetic View Post
Why not take one of the ferries from the SkyPier at HKIA?
Notice what I said about CKS' catamaran timetable. There's four departures per day and none of them matches my timing. And it's not exactly efficient to travel to SZX via Macau, so the other company isn't feasible.
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Old Nov 10, 19, 7:01 pm
  #103  
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Originally Posted by helvetic View Post
It's equally possible for something like this to happen at SFO, and yet we don't see a "San Francisco survival guide" talking about the potential risk for transit disruption due to airport unrest. It's about equally as likely.
I seriously doubt that is true. If such happened, I would be the first creating something like that.

Originally Posted by Flying Yazata View Post
Hmm, how much time should I reserve for that option?
I would have to say 3 hours should be more than sufficient.

The problem with this option is coach change at Shenzhen Bay and the border-crossing (Note - while your coach ticket is a through ticket, it is the practice of every operator to re-consolidate their passengers after the border crossing. So you may not end up the same coach you board at HKG.)
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Old Nov 11, 19, 1:15 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
I would have to say 3 hours should be more than sufficient.

The problem with this option is coach change at Shenzhen Bay and the border-crossing (Note - while your coach ticket is a through ticket, it is the practice of every operator to re-consolidate their passengers after the border crossing. So you may not end up the same coach you board at HKG.)
Okay, I'll get my CX flight changed and hope that 4:15 from gate to gate will be doable on Sunday. Will try to get ASAP to the coach ticket counters in T1 at HKG. Thanks for the input!
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Old Nov 11, 19, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by helvetic View Post
It's equally possible for something like this to happen at SFO.
No it's not. Not even close.

I have never lived in HK but I been traveling there for over 30 years, as recently as last month. We are now approaching 6 months of unrest. A couple of weeks ago it seemed to be calming down a bit with protests basically limited to Sunday 2 weeks in a row, but now it has flared up in a big way. As someone who has a lot of affection for HK, I find this all very disturbing. I just don't know how this ever ends. I would still go to HK for business (my next trip will be April 2020) but at this point I absolutely would not go there on holiday. It's a shame. I feel for HK residents.
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