For many Filipinos looking to travel abroad for the first time, it has been something of a tradition that one of the first and arguably affordable overseas destinations they can go to is Hong Kong. From being a British Crown Colony until its 1997 handover to China and its current status as a Special Administrative Region, the small territory to the east of the Pearl River in southern China has been a main draw for Filipinos ranging from tourists to overseas workers. Recent political developments however have cast a shadow over the appeal of travelling to Hong Kong, and its local Filipino Consul General is advising not to come now.
CNN Philippines reports that the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong has issued an advisory to potential Filipino tourists not to travel to the Chinese SAR anytime soon. This Tuesday, November 19, Consul General Raly Tejada noted that the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong makes it a dicey travel proposition. On an interview with CNN Philippines, CG Tejada remarked that tourists from this country looking to go to Hong Kong should reconsider their plans, and maybe delay their departure dates in the meantime if possible.
The Consul General to Hong Kong added that one important factor that would sour tourist visits to the SAR at this time is high possibility that its extensive transportation infrastructure could be paralyzed at any time by an outbreak of public disorder and the violent confrontations with the local police that would follow. “Right now the situation is fluid, so anything can happen,” says Tejada. “There are now flash protests springing up even during weekdays.” He adds however that most OFWs working in Hong Kong have not experienced difficulties at their workplaces, and sending new workers to the region need not be banned just yet.
All the chaos brewing in Hong Kong stems from the initial outbreak of protests in June over an extradition bill that would allow repatriation of SAR residents to Beijing for criminal trial proceedings. While the bill has been ultimate junked, the discontent felt by Hong Kongese has escalated into a general concern over the smothering of democratic institutions, systems and freedoms by the Communist government of mainland China, eroding the “One Country, Two Systems” guarantee agreed upon with the United Kingdom to facilitate the territory’s handover. Clashes between protesters and police have grown increasingly violent and bloody, with the threat of direct military intervention hanging over the special region’s population.
While tourists are being urged to err on the side of caution, HK-based OFWs carry on their jobs with little interference. Of the estimated 240,000 Filipino workers there, only two were affected by the protests and around four lost their jobs following the departure of their employers from Hong Kong.
Image courtesy of BusinessMirror