Hong Kong is bracing for more anti-government demonstrations and a “stress test” of its international airport this weekend, as protests in the Asian financial hub show no signs of abating and diplomatic tensions between China and some Western nations rise.
The Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong said on Friday it has suspended travel to mainland China for local staff, just days after an employee of the city’s British Consulate was confirmed to have been detained in China.
Canada’s latest travel advisory on Thursday warned that increased screening of travelers’ digital devices had been reported at border crossings between mainland China and Hong Kong.
The unrest has widened into calls for greater freedom, fueled by worries about the erosion of rights guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula, adopted after the 1997 handover, such as an independent judiciary and the right to protest.
Activists plan to disrupt transport to Hong Kong’s international airport at the weekend.
“Go to the airport by different means, including MTR, Airport Bus, Taxi, Bike and Private Car to increase pressure on airport transport,” protest organizers wrote online.
Hong Kong’s airport, one of the world’s busiest, was forced to close temporarily last week and hundreds of flights were canceled or rescheduled when protesters and police clashed.
The Airport Authority published a half-page advertisement in major newspapers on Friday urging young people to “love Hong Kong” and said it opposed acts that “blocked and interfered with the operation of the airport”. It said it would continue to work to maintain smooth operations.
Hong Kong’s High Court on Friday extended an order restricting protesters at the city’s international airport.
The order requires public demonstrations have the permission of authorities and is aimed at banning “those who want to deliberately obstruct or interfere with the normal use of the airport”, said the court.
Nearly three months of anti-government rallies have plunged the city into crisis, drawing in corporate casualties such as Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) amid mounting Chinese scrutiny over the involvement of some of the carrier’s staff in protests.
The protests are already taking a toll on the city’s economy and tourism, with the special administrative region on the cusp of its first recession in a decade.