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Hong Kong, SAR China Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

The vast majority of trips to Hong Kong (population 7.1 million; 100 percent urbanized), the small and prosperous Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, are carried out under excellent conditions.

POLITICS

Travelers to this former British territory (ceded back to China in 1997) should note that ‒ as of the end of 2016 ‒ the region is embroiled in sociopolitical tensions. Pro-democracy activists (e.g. students), having been forced by the authorities to suspend their mobilization in late 2014, continue to harbor desires (and hold occasional protests, e.g. popular protest on January 3, 2016; pro-independence protest on August 5, 2016) to reform the governmental system and reduce Beijing's influence in local affairs (mobilization and riots against security forces during Chinese New Year festivities on February 8, 2016).

On the other side of the political spectrum, some 40,000 individuals rallied near the Parliament on November 13, 2016, to demonstrate their support to Beijing.

Legislative elections took place on September 4, 2016, to select the lawmakers of the Legislative Council (or LegCo). The vote comes two years after the pro-democracy elections (Umbrella Revolution) that had paralyzed most of Hong Kong without obtaining any political concession from Mainland China, and voters largely participated electing several young pro-independence lawmakers for the first time.

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.

HEALTH

Travelers should be aware that markedly high levels of pollution (such as those in February and the beginning of March 2015) in Hong Kong may bother certain visitors. Additionally, in early June 2015, local authorities temporarily placed the territory under a high health alert to fight against a possible outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) like the one that broke out in South Korea in spring/summer 2015 (100 cases and seven deaths).

SECURITY

Regarding security conditions, it should be noted that foreigners have been targeted in the past by criminals in the business district as well as in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Guangdong province (located just over the Chinese border). Over the past few years, several dozen Westerners have been victims of crime in the Wan Chai neighborhood; drugs are surreptitiously added to drinks at “hostess bars” and the victims are then robbed and forced to withdraw large sums of money from ATMs.

OTHER

Finally, it should be noted that the majority of local taxi drivers speak little or no English. Indicating your destination in Chinese characters will save travelers a great deal of trouble.

Climate

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

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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