Country Reports

Hong Kong, SAR China Country Report

Content provided by
IHS Markit Logo

Risk Level

Very High


Executive Summary

The Hong Kong SAR government's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak has been slow, inadequate, and exacerbated public concerns in the government's disaster-response capability. Chief Executive Carrie Lam's lack of legitimacy and trust, increasingly among both pro- and anti- government camps, has contributed to the thus-far incoherence in policy response to public concerns over health and safety. This, in addition to the failure to provide basic medical equipment to front-line medical staff, civil servants, and the general public, has prompted IHS Markit to raise the "State Failure" risks for the territory. Further city-wide protest-induced disruptions are likely throughout 2020, although the frequency of protests is likely to be lower in the first half. The widespread use of extra crowd-control equipment including water cannons and live rounds by the Hong Kong police is highly likely. Official deployment of mainland Chinese troops remains unlikely but will be indicated by signs that the Hong Kong police can no longer secure government offices and major infrastructure assets. IHS Markit's current forecast of a 0.5% fall in the economy for 2020 is subject to a downwards revision. Preliminary data has shown that Hong Kong's real GDP contracted by another sharp 2.9% year on year (y/y) in the fourth quarter of 2019, following an already-steep contraction of 2.8% y/y in the third quarter. The additional blow from the novel coronavirus outbreak suggests that the economic downturn is likely to continue into early 2020, posting at least another quarter of a steep contraction in the first quarter. Restrictions in tourist from mainland China, weak mainland Chinese demand, closures of schools and public facilities, and the volatility in the local stock market and the resulting adverse wealth effect suggest a further slump in retail sales and consumer spending.
Last update: February 12, 2020

Operational Outlook

Government intervention in the market has traditionally been minimal; the territory's first anti-monopoly regulation only took effect in December 2015. The legal system, based on English common law, will continue to be a unique feature for foreign investors looking to invest in Hong Kong and mainland China. Tax rates are low, with no tariff barriers.

Last update: March 20, 2020



The threat from terrorism is moderate in Hong Kong. There has been little indication of Hong Kong being a main target for international terrorist groups. However there are indications that radical actors in the anti-government camp may have the intention of instigating terrorist attacks against police, government or pro-China business assets. The authorities have stepped up security, mainly at airports and cargo ports, and the police conduct regular counter-terrorism drills and training exercise.

Last update: March 5, 2020


Violent crime against foreigners is highly uncommon in Hong Kong. However, there are incidents where criminal gangs were active during political protests, which can lead to risks of collateral harm to bystanders around protest hotspots. Rising levels of cyber crime represent a moderate risk, following the hacking of bitcoins worth USD72 million in August 2016. The authorities are likely to introduce tougher laws and more extensive training to combat money laundering and improve cyber security.

Last update: March 5, 2020

War Risks

Hong Kong has no border disputes with nearby countries and faces no immediate risk of war. The mainland Chinese military maintains about 6,000 armed troops in Hong Kong and is capable of rapidly deploying thousands more to defend the city.

Last update: March 5, 2020

Social Stability


Political activism has risen during recent years, and large-scale protests involving hundred of thousands of students and other residents are highly likely. Antagonism against the Hong Kong police, which suffered significant reputational damage following its alleged heavy-handed approach against protesters, makes the likelihood of violent confrontations between protesters and the police very likely. Hotspots have expanded beyond government offices to city-wide transport and commercial hotspots. However, most protests are still likely to be peaceful and the risks of deliberate violence or asset damage against commercial properties remain low.

Last update: March 5, 2020

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks


Travelers should take note that Hong Kong is predominantly threatened by two natural hazards: typhoons and earthquakes.

Typhoons can strike the region at any time of the year but are most common during the monsoon season (July to November), with a peak of storms in the last weeks of August and the first weeks of September. The government is well aware of this risk and a system of alerts is in place; the population is informed when a typhoon is within 800 km (500 mi) of Hong Kong’s coasts. The alert system also warns residents of other types of storms, landslides, and floods. During the monsoon season, visitors should follow local media reports to keep informed of any approaching storms. Over the past few years, no typhoons have led to high numbers of casualties; nevertheless, material damages from such weather events can be significant. On July 24, 2013, Typhoon Vincente, with gusts above 150 kph (93.2 mph), was the strongest storm to hit the region in over 15 years, although no deaths or major property damages were reported.

Moreover, Hong Kong is located in an active seismic zone; the region was struck by a series of relatively minor earthquakes between March 2005 and September 2006. While no major earthquakes have been observed in the area, the risk of a tsunami would be significant if one were to occur.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information


Hong Kong's climate is dominated by seasonal monsoon winds that bring rain from May until September. During the winter days are mild and evenings cool but temperatures never fall below freezing. Summers are hot, humid, and rainy, particularly in July and August (cyclone season).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +852
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Last update: April 5, 2019