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Hong Kong, SAR China Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

The implementation of Hong Kong SAR’s national security law (NSL) will likely reduce the frequency and scale of protests in the coming months, given that the police have been given more powers to detain activists. In the 12-month outlook, the police are unlikely to approve large-scale protests, using justifications related to the threat of COVID-19 virus outbreaks. Nevertheless, activists remain likely to organise demonstrations on politically symbolic dates, including mainland China’s national day on 1 October, in the second half of 2020. US President Donald Trump has announced plans to change the US’s special treatment of Hong Kong in a range of sectors including trade, extradition, immigration, and visa regulations. The Trump administration is likely to impose punitive actions against mainland China and Hong Kong gradually to limit the initial direct effect on US businesses and stock markets. Trump has to date avoided announcing measures that would significantly affect US business interests in Hong Kong and mainland China, such as measures that would directly destabilise the territory’s position as a financial hub.The Hong Kong government has reimposed some social distancing measures following a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The government has announced a substantial amount of spending for fiscal year (FY) 2020, including a one-off cash payout, tax breaks, and low-interest loans, to ease the financial burden from a recession-trapped economy. However, despite the expansionary budget and massive relief measures, severe disruptions from the outbreak are still expected to result in a sharp economic downturn. IHS Markit expects the economy to contract by 7.63% in 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 SAR and mainland China. Tax rates are low, with no tariff barriers.

Terrorism

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 allegedly have the intention of instigating terrorist attacks against police, government, or pro-mainland 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.

Crime

Violent crime against foreigners is highly uncommon in Hong Kong. However, there were 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.

War Risks

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

Social Stability

High

Political activism has risen during recent years, and large-scale protests involving hundreds 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.

Health Risk

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.

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.

Practical Information

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:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal