Hong Kong’s government expects the city’s economy to shrink and says violent protests are to blame, as nations around the world issue travel alerts warning citizens to stay away.
Financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po told Legco that peaceful marches had evolved into violence over the past few months and if Hong Kong wanted travel warnings lifted, it was crucial to restore social order.
Ireland became the first nation to release a travel advisory in July, advising citizens to take a high degree of caution in Hong Kong.
“During episodes of social unrest, expect road closures, transport disruptions and police crowd control responses, including the use of tear gas,” Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website said.
Since then, at least 29 countries have also told citizens who are planning to visit Hong Kong to exercise caution due to the ongoing unrest.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel advisory in October, suggesting its citizens postpone travel plans. In a statement on its website, it said, “Singaporeans are advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments. If you are already in Hong Kong, you should take all necessary precautions to ensure your personal safety. You should avoid taking photos of or attending protests, or large public gatherings.” It also advised those in or travelling to Hong Kong to keep family and friends informed about their plans.
On November 29, Canada warned that the security situation around large gatherings could change quickly.
“Acts of violence do occur, with some resulting in serious injuries. Clashes between security forces and demonstrators, as well as between opposing groups of demonstrators, have taken place. Police have often reacted more swiftly and severely to unauthorised protests. They have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition as crowd control measures,” it said.
Chan said the government expected the economy would shrink by about 1.3 per cent. At the same time, Singapore’s economy was likely to grow by 0.5 per cent.
“Recent social events have caused a huge economic loss to Hong Kong, including the decline of business activities. Citizens also do not have much motivation to consume,” said Chan, adding that the government anticipated a 2 per cent drop in the city’s gross domestic product (yearly growth rate) because of ongoing protests.